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Papers on Minimalist Shoe/Barefoot Running Injuries

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Kevin Kirby, May 18, 2012.

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    I will be debating Irene Davis, PhD, in a few weeks on Barefoot vs Shod Running at the annual American College of Sports Medicine meeting in San Francisco on Saturday, June 2, 2012. I am interested to see if anyone is aware of any published articles/case reports of injuries from running in minimalist shoes or while barefoot.

    Any references would be appreciated. pdfs can be privately e-mailed to me at kevinakirby@comcast.net.

    Thanks in advance.:drinks
  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    So its going to be anecdote vs anecdote. Anecdotes are easily to find. Barefooters claim that you get less injuries running barefoot; you only have to go to any barefoot website and notice the zillion barefoot runners asking for advice on their injury ... don't figure?

    Why not focus on the lack of evidence?
    Why not focus on the way the barefooter's misuse and lie about the science?
    Why not focus on the load on specific tissues that are increased by forefoot striking?
  3. Nat

    Nat Active Member

  4. Craig:

    I don't think our debate will be "anecdote vs anecdote". The last time Irene and I debated on barefoot vs shod running at the California Physical Therapy Associations' Annual Meeting in Long Beach in September of last year, we talked mostly of the scientific research on barefoot vs shod running while I spoke a little bit about the history of shoes and history of barefoot running. It was a standing room only audience in the 200 person capacity auditorium.

    For the ACSM meeting in a few weeks, we only have 15 minutes each to give our lectures on our sides of the debate followed by about 30 minutes of question/answer from the audience. It will be interesting to see how big the audience will be for this one. I figured that the references that Simon and Nat provided would be the only anecdotes that I would provide for my lecture. Nearly all the rest of the remaining 14 minutes of lecture will be a review of the scientific research on barefoot vs shod running and footstrike biomechanics.

    Should be fun.
  5. Ray Anthony

    Ray Anthony Active Member


    Here's some ammunition:

    1. Rothschild CE: Primitive Running: A survey analysis of runners' interest, participation, and implementation. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print].

    Fear of possible injury greater than motivation to prevent injury. Runners know the score!

    A recent survey of 785 runners: 630 (75.7%) indicated they were at least somewhat interested in running barefoot or in minimalist shoes. 172 (21.9%) runners had previously tried barefoot running while 239 (30.4%) had previously tried minimalist shoes. The primary motivating factor for those running barefoot or minimalist shoes (n=283) was to prevent future injury (n=97, 34.3%). Advice from friends (n=68, 24.5%) or books (n=68, 24.5%) were the most commonly utilized resources in transitioning to barefoot or minimalist shod running. Fear of possible injury (n=424, 54%) was the most prevalent perceived barrier in transitioning to barefoot or minimalist shod running. An overwhelming 671 (85.5%) indicated they were at least somewhat likely to continue with or to add barefoot or minimalist shod running if provided sufficient instruction. Runners who are men, of younger age, and who consider themselves elite runners are somewhat more likely to be interested in barefoot or minimalist shod running.

    2. Jung DY, Koh EK, Kwon OY. Effect of foot orthoses and short-foot exercise on the cross-sectional area of the abductor hallucis muscle in subjects with pes planus: A randomized controlled trial. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2011 Jan 1;24(4):225-31.

    The muscles got stronger in the orthotic only group. Counter to the paper: Brugemann G., Potthast W., Braunstein B. et. al.: Effects of increased mechanical stimuli on foot muscles functional capacity. ISB XXth Congress – ASB 29th Annual Meeting, Cleveland, OH: American Society of Biomechanics 2005: 553

    3. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) said an independent study on Vibram FiveFingers found the while the glove-like shoes may be beneficial for those who suffer from chronic running injuries, using Vibrams and barefoot-style shoes for running can pose additional risks if runners do not adopt the correct foot-to-ground strike style. The independent study was conducted by the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Exercise and Health Program, and led by John Porcari, Ph.D., and Caitlin McCarthy, M.S. www.acefitness.org/getfit/research.aspx. The kicker is that the Hasegawa and Kaminski references below show that many forefoot strikers actually become heel strikers during an event!

    4. Hasegawa H, Yamauchi T, Kraemer WJ: Foot strike patterns of runners at the 15-km point during an elite-level half marathon: J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Aug;21(3):888-93.

    5. Kaminski J, Decker T, Preble J, Lyons D, McIntyre K, Normile A. Larson P, : Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race. J Sports Sci. 2011 Dec;29(15):1665-73. Epub 2011 Nov 18.

    6. Hashish R, Samarawickrame S, Powers C, Salem G: Foot contact patterns and joint demands in novice barefoot runners before and after exertion. CSM 2012 Sports Physical Therapy Section Abstracts: Poster Presentations SPO1100-SPO1125J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2012;42(1):A114-A124

    Hashish, et. al propose that the exertion required to change the running gait cycle to attain an initial forefoot contact phase changes barefoot running mechanics in a way that negates any potential benefits associated with this running style. In particular, subjects reverted to a heel strike gait pattern and exhibited an increase in the biomechanical demand at the knee following exertion due to fatigue.

    7. Franz JR, Wierzbinski CM, Kram R. Metabolic Cost of Running Barefoot versus Shod: Is Lighter Better? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print]

    Running barefoot has no metabolic advantage over running in lightweight, cushioned shoes.

    8. Stacoff A, Nigg B, et. al.: Tibiocalcaneal kinematics of barefoot versus shod running. J Biomech. (2000) Vol 33; 11, pp 1387-1395.

    Authors demonstrated no difference in frontal plane rearfoot function (i.e. tibio-calcaneal or rearfoot motion) between shod and unshod runners, which suggests that the significant changes in foot function between the shod and unshod conditions occur mostly in the sagittal plane (essentially at the knee and the ankle) and not in the frontal and transverse planes. This study suggests that runners will maintain their frontal plane biomechanical compromise when transitioning from a shod to an unshod running condition.

    Only two reference on injuries I'm afraid:

    9. Giuliani J, Masini B, Alitz C, Owens BD. Barefoot-simulating footwear associated with metatarsal stress injury in 2 runners. Orthopedics. 2011 Jul 7;34(7):e320-3.

    Stress-related changes and fractures in the foot are frequent in runners. However, the causative factors, including anatomic and kinematic variables, are not well defined. Footwear choice has also been implicated in contributing to injury patterns with changes in force transmission and gait analyses reported in the biomechanical literature. Despite the benefits of footwear, there has been increased interest among the running community in barefoot running with proposed benefits including a decreased rate of injury. We report 2 cases of metatarsal stress fracture in experienced runners whose only regimen change was the adoption of barefoot-simulating footwear. One was a 19-year-old runner who developed a second metatarsal stress reaction along the entire diaphysis. The second case was a 35-year-old ultra-marathon runner who developed a fracture in the second metatarsal diaphysis after 6 weeks of use of the same footwear. While both stress injuries healed without long-term effects, these injuries are alarming in that they occurred in experienced male runners without any other risk factors for stress injury to bone. The suspected cause for stress injury in these 2 patients is the change to barefoot-simulating footwear. Runners using these shoes should be cautioned on the potential need for gait alterations from a heel-strike to a midfoot-striking pattern, as well as cautioned on the symptoms of stress injury.

    10. Salzler MJ, Bluman, EM, Noonan,S , Chiodo, De Asla, RJ: Injuries Observed in Minimalist Runners, Foot & Ankle International April 2012 (Vol. 33, #4).

    Eight metatarsal stress fractures and one plantar fascia rupture occurred in 10 experienced runners within 1-year from transitioning from a standard training shoe to a minimalist running shoe.

    Good luck,

  6. Ray:

    Thanks a bunch for the list of references. I have most of these but there are a few that I don't have in my files. Thanks for the list!:drinks
  7. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    You may also want to get in contact with the medicos cited in this article...

    Born this way, but barefoot running not all it's cracked up to be:

  8. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

    Joe Hamill presented this at iFab-


    This included the results of a forward dynamics simulation which demonstrated that a rearfoot strike is most metabolically efficient- (lowest oxygen consumption) , a forefoot strike is faster (but least efficient) and a midfoot strike is somewhere in between...
    All makes sense!
  9. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

  10. Joe Hamill and I have been corresponding privately on barefoot running ideas and he has sent me his i-FAB lecture that discusses his forward dynamics research on heel-striking being the most energy efficient mode of running. Joe's a good guy to have on our side!
  11. phil

    phil Active Member

    Kevin, when you say "on our side", it sounds a bit like us verses them! Are there really different sides? If so, what are the different sides?

    My experience is that people generally fit more on a spectrum when discussing this issue, with people sitting at different points on a continum, depending on whatever factors have so far influenced their point of view. These influencing factors could be personal experiances, clinical experiance, their understanding of (or lack thereof) of the biomechanics of running, or published research they have read. Obviously there are some particularly exotic ideas at the extreme barefoot zealot end of the spectrum!

    As we all know, there's not much evidence connecting shod vs barefoot running to injury, so you've got to expect a lot of personal and clinical annecdotes, plus some homegrown or secondhand philosophies about being more "natural" or not. Some of the most rewading conversations I've had with health professionals from other specialities (mostly GPs and physiotherapists) regarding barefoot running has been by not discouraging barefoot running per se, but by helping them understand some basic lower limb biomechanics, e.g. STJ location, tissue loading in shod vs barefoot running. Pretty soon they are able to describe to me what are the logical limitations and risks of barefoot running, and also the possible benefits!

    I suppose what I'm trying to say is that when you say "on our side", I hope that you mean the side of all sincere enquirers who seek an unbiased synthesis of all current knowledge of the subject, as opposed to the "other side" being those who do not, or will not, accept the current evidence, or lack thereof, so they can believe what is most convenient or profitable to them.

    I make these comments with the greatest respect of all writing in this thread, as I've learned most of what I know about this whole topic from the contributors of this forum.

    All the best at the ACSM meeting!

  12. Phil:

    Thanks for the post.:good:

    All I meant to say is that both Joe Hamill and I have debated on the "shoe side" of the "barefoot vs shod debate" against Irene Davis (who is on the "barefoot side" of the debate) on at least one occasion. In addition, I was asked to be on the "shoe side" of the barefoot vs shod running debate in the February 2010 issue of Runner's World.

    Maybe I was assuming too much when I suggested, by using the phrase "on our side" that most of those following along here on Podiatry Arena think it is overall best to run in shoes than run barefoot.

    Phil, how many of your patients do you suggest that they run barefoot to cure their running injuries?
  13. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Is it really all about running injuries?

  14. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    While discussing the merits of barefoot running and shod running, having Jason's thoughts in mind that he so eloquently wrote on the Barefoot University:
    might actually lead to a constructive discussion. I look forward to the day when those with knowledge work together on solutions that genuinely help the running population at large. I sincerely believe we all want the same thing, to help those who need help.

  15. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Dana, we're podiatrists, we treat injuries. We attempt to heal people so that they can go out and enjoy their run/sport. Your response was to a quote that was asking whether or not we should recommend barefoot running as a treatment for an injury. If I saw a patient with a long 2nd metatarsal and stress fracture symptoms I'm pretty confident in saying that running barefoot would not be a good treatment for this person. Would a barefoot zealot recommend running barefoot to strengthen this foot? I'd hope that some barefoot proponents would at least recommend rest for this injury.

    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  16. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Eric, the quote was part of a thread about being on one side or another of a debate. You are right, podiatrists treat injuries.

    The decisions made about footwear are not always based on injury prevention or recovery.

  17. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Choosing your shod or unshod condition in running is a different beast than a foot with a lack of protective sensation. The insensate foot is all about prevention of injury.

  18. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    The whole world does not look like a nail said the screwdriver to the hammer.
  19. phil

    phil Active Member

    Zero! Never have advised a runner with an injury to run barefoot to cure their injury. Because there is no good evidence to suggest that this would fix their injury. If the evidence changes, then I will change my practice. Should I be suggesting barefoot running as a treatment for running injuries? If so, which injuries?

    I get very good results using custom orthoses for lots of running injuries. And there is good evidence base to encourage this approach.

    I do, however, discuss barefoot running with many of my runners, particularly if they bring up the topic. I never suggest it as a treatment for a current injury. Usually I'm discussing the theoretical reasons for why it might be a useful adjunct to their current training, once the injury has resolved.

  20. phil

    phil Active Member

    Hi Dana,

    could you please define "nail" "screw" and "hammer" for me, in the above context?

    is the "nail" an injury? cause if it is, you'll need a "hammer", not a "screwdriver". if there is confusion over whether it's a nail or a screw, then there is a problem. but if it's definitely a nail, and there is good evidence that you can hammer a nail with a hammer, then just nail it.

    that being said- have you ever seen one of those helical decking screws? you hammer them in, but because they have a thread they stay in better.

    I think I've stretched this analogy beyond it's plastic deformation point and it's about to break! Sorry. Kinda like posterior tibial tendon rupture, an good example of a "nail" needing a "hammer" sooner rather than later?

  21. Phil:

    I talk quite a bit with my runner-patients about barefoot running since they seem to want to know what my thoughts are on this subject. Generally I tell them that it is fine as a training aid and as a tool to better understand the mechanics of their running stride, but that there is also no evidence that barefoot running either prevents injuries or is a safer or better way to run than running in shoes. Most runners I speak with haven't read "Born to Run" and have never run in Vibram FiveFingers but have heard about these two favorites of the barefoot running advocates.

    One thing I do tell my runner-patients is that if they want to know more about what I think about barefoot running then they simply type: "Kevin Kirby, barefoot running" into Google and they will be spending at least a few hours learning more than they ever probably wanted to know about the subject.:cool::drinks
  22. Phil3600

    Phil3600 Active Member

    As stated not many runners have read Born to Run but most do read glossy running/tri magazines.

    Attached is an article from a UK triathlon magazine (it's from 2010 so may have been posted before...apologies if it has) and this is where entry level athletes get their info from. Some interesting snipets in there especially the line "the barefoot movement is backed by a suprising amount of science". I believe a few of the forum regulars may have something to say about that (especially the study they have quoted)

  23. efuller

    efuller MVP

    I'll bet it was quite a succesful article for the magazine. It filled the spaces between the adds with some new and different entertainment. There's not a lot of new stuff in running. There are only so many diet fads that you can report on. This year it's the high carb low protien, low fat diet. Next year it's the low carb, high protien, low fat diet. You can only change the variables so many times before you have to repeat. You can get away with it for a few years. Maybe the average subscription length is less than 5 years.

  24. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I still trying to figure out how normally smart people can get so deluded. None of the "science" quoted in that article showed that barefoot was any better!
  25. Yeah, but it did have photos of Chris McDougall running barefoot at about 7 minutue mile pace with a bandana on his head...that's got to be worth some science...:rolleyes::craig::bang:
  26. Phil3600

    Phil3600 Active Member

    I can only speak from a UK point of view but I'm in 2 triathlon clubs (one a large running club with a triathlon section) and I don't think barefoot has really taken off over here. Nobody in my running club wears Vibrams, runs true barefoot, or runs in Newtons. There are a lot of mature athletes in this club and they certainly won't be changing their ways.

    Army Triathlon (my other club and generally a younger average age) I've see one bloke in Vibrams and a few in Newton's but it's a very large club (I think the UK's largest) so you would maybe expect more people to be wearing this type of footwear. Strength and Condtioning (S&C) is the main focus for most the army elite triathletes and these training sessions are placed in higher importance to actual swimming, biking and running...these are the sessions that they will not miss. And is S&C not something that can be applied to all running forms? I think I read someone asking the same question in a previous thread...

    Looking forward to bio summer school in Manchester this year where I think barefoot vs shod is on the menu.

    Barefoot running shoes, clipless pedals you clip in and out of. How confusing is sports footwear terminology?
  27. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Look at what has happened in the running shoe industry over the past 3 years. The fact is, Chris McDougall questioned the mode of thinking about running shoes that has been in place for 40 years. With that questioning and subsequent book, I can not think of a single person that has had any where near the impact that Chris McDougall has had on the running shoe industry other than possibly Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman themselves.

    It is not about whether he is right or wrong, us against them, our side or their side, it is about taking what has been generally accepted as "correct, accepted or proper" over the past 40 yrs and have all those who care, revisit whether a common line of thinking that has spanned 40 yrs was right.

    After 2 1/2 years of reading the podiatry arena, I am still amazed at how much energy and effort has been spent rebuking a guy running barefoot with a bandana on his head.

    I am grateful that Chris McDougall had enough creativity to question the 40 year product direction of the running shoe industry and the desire to write a book about it. I have truly benefited from what has happened in the shoe industry over the past 3 yrs. My only regret is that this didn't happen 30 yrs ago. My benefit has nothing to do with injury prevention, how fast or how long I can run. Rather, it is about the whole direction of the shoe industries products and that the products that have become available over the past few years have brought great joy to my running.

    I couldn't be happier and I thank the guy with the bandana and bare feet for getting the attention of the running shoe industry. I applaud Chris McDougall and say good job. At this point it is fairly safe to assume that Chris McDougall's name will be tied to running and running shoes for years to come. I'm frankly surprised that Nike hasn't approached McDougall to come up with the Chris McDougall line of running shoes. Like the Bowerman series or the Jordan line or basketball shoes.

    Dana Roueche
  28. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    The above cited barefoot article - "Barefoot In The Park" is just your usual barefoot rubbish - but hey, what do you expect from a triathlon mag. It's an insult to runners with at least half a brain! It's getting to the point where I shy away from anything relating to "barefoot" these days - particularly media articles... & as for Bill Bowerman coming up with the "heel-to-toe concept of jogging" - what absolute rubbish! :bang: He would turn in his grave reading such stupidity (as would Steve Prefontaine). We also have equally moronic notions in the past such as the founder of "Pose" coming up with forefoot/midfoot running... & with a forward tilt (or was that the “chi” guy) & yet now we have the apparent inventor of heel-to-toe running announced. Anybody else out there wants to put their hand up for a running trait not yet claimed – high chest/rib cage running per chance? Does swimming or cycling attract such nonsense?!

    The thing is, I am now what is deemed a "minimalist runner" – that is I run in shoes which are less robust, lighter, lower heel to forefoot pitch to the traditional 80's, 90's, 00's training shoe... been doing so for about 23-24 years. I have even been called the "barefoot podiatrist" by the owner of a popular running store in Sydney - which I cringe at... why, because of material like the above & characters like the following (& there has been plenty of it)... such as the likes of McDougall. I even sometimes where a bandana for crying out loud (practical reason due to protection from the Australian environment - I have had sun spots on my forehead)... which according to current trend may soon adopt as McDougall’s own style (if it hasn’t happened already). Just like what seems to be happening with that “100-up” exercise (Google search). I was doing this exercise as a 14 – 16 year old as instructed by my coach June Ferguson (who also coached Betty Cuthbert - fourfold Olympic Champion, of which known for her high knee lift as stated), yet this exercise is said to be invented by a miler, Walter George in the 19th century (fair enough). Yet, why is it that these apparent egotistical characters need to attribute basic fundamental activities as their inspiration... or at least condone the case via others? Frankly, I’m getting fed up with it.

    Like I’ve said before, it would appear to me that the above traits have more to do with fame & fortune than with serious science, performance & another’s running welfare... & the internet is now a great medium to promote such views (turning them into evangelistic "gurus") to the masses – regardless of the consequences. The claims made by the cardinal exponents of the barefoot brigade may have given rise to a new era in running: one of smoke & mirrors, in which ego, style & individuality triumphs over substance, science, logic & reasoning.

    I feel minimalist running shoes were bound to develop into a genre regardless of McDougall’s fictional tale inspired by endurance Indians wearing tyre sandaled foot attire... it was just a matter of time & the direction was heading that way before the release of that book in 2009. As far as the current trend of minimalist running shoes are concerned, I was running in the Nike Free 5.0 (only model at the time) in 2004 & was running in the Vibram Classic when it first came out in 2007... as was many others. Speaking of which, I’ve got to now christen my new Bikila shoes ;).

  29. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Funny you should mention that. Hear is an article on the 100-up I just wrote:
  30. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Matt good post. As far McDougall's book being fiction or non-fiction, I do know first hand that the better part of the first half of his book is absolutely true. The reason I am so convinced of that is because I was there. I know personally most of the people he wrote about and I ran in and finished the Leadville Trail 100 for 7 years straight from 1993 through 1999. McDougall wrote of Leadville and the Tarahumara in Leadville from 1992 through 1994. There are a few specifics that he didn't get quite right like what happened in which year of Leadville but you would only pick up on that if you were there.

    I do know that the Tarahumara wore tire tread and rawhide sandals and won the race in 1993 and 1994 wearing them. I was totally amazed by the fact that people could run that far and that fast on really nasty terrain in the primitive footwear they were using. For that matter, in the spirit of the Tarahumara, in 1994, I ran the entire Leadville 100 miles wearing casual shoes by Rockport just to prove to myself that I could run all day wearing anything on my feet as long as they didn't cause blisters and that it was my form that was more important than the shoe I was wearing.

    What was interesting was that just prior to the start of the 1994 race, I saw 10 or 11 Tarahumara all wearing the same Rockport shoes I was wearing. The difference was that they all dumped the Rockports in favor of their sandals by the first aid station at mile 13. I wore mine for the entire 100 miles. I have to guess that the Tarahumara would have failed if they tried wearing Rockports the whole way.

    In 1992, 1993 and 1994, at least everyone in the ultra running community was more than aware of people wearing sandals and winning 100 mile mountain races. Believe me, there was a huge amount of discussion between the ultra running community about shoe type and design for years. Other than people trying various racing flats and fell running shoes from time to time, the whole thing kind of went nowhere.

    With respect to it being a matter of time before the barefoot/minimal approach became popular, I agree but I have to wonder HOW MUCH TIME? It was over 15 years between the Tarahumara running in Leadville and Chris McDougall's book. Would another 15 years have gone by before minimal shoes became popular, we don't know.

    When McDougall's book first came out, I thought jeez I was more than aware of this when I was running side by side with the Tarahumara 15 yrs ago. What I didn't realize was that his book was going to become the catalyst for change in the running shoe industry. It was the spark that created sweeping overnight interest in minimal shoes which prompted the shoe industry to respond with a huge array of minimal shoe options available on the retail market. All of this simply stewed for 15 years in the meantime and because of that, I am really grateful for Chris McDougall giving the running community and the shoe industry the shot in the arm that it needed to get on with it.

    Did McDougall come up with anything new? No, we were more than aware of his ideas for years. This difference was that whether he intended it or not, he was behind the cause of change.

  31. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Hi Dana, thank you for your input here.

    Yes, I have heard likewise. In the past I have referred to "Born To Run" as semi-fictional – this is a more apt description & I should have kept to this as opposed to using "fiction" (as there is some element of fact/truth based on his personal accounts within the covers). However, there are also plenty of hyperbole/fallacies; putting aside the stated "high-tech science" & the issues surrounding Origins, some of the views/logic on the actual running side of things are left wanting. I respect the Tarahumara & I’m sure they are good runners but I don’t consider them to be (& I quote) "the greatest runners of all time", nor can they (& I quote) "chase down an Olympic marathoner". The vast majority of Olympic marathoners (i.e. a Kenyan) wouldn’t run an ultra-distance race for various reasons (hence out of the picture/equation)... & a Tarahumara hasn’t (& probably wouldn’t) race/compete in an Olympic marathon (for various reasons). Yet, if a group/tribe of Kenyans (i.e. the 140 odd Kenyan Olympic marathon qualifiers who will not make it to London this year or Rio for the next Olympics) were to take up on any of the varying ultra-marathon distances then we may well see a different light on the subject of "greatest runners of all time"... within McDougall’s narrow world view of ultra-running. Frankly, for any objective observer of world class athletics, the finger has been pointing towards the Rift Valley Rim region of East Africa for quite a while now... & no doubt for quite a while to come.

    It is because of your above running related experiences I find your input here valuable – you may be coming from a different perspective to most on this forum but it is a perspective I find of practical interest/relevance.

    I can’t help but wonder, how long did they have these Rockports (did they train in them leading up to the event) – interesting that they were all wearing the same shoe. Any chance Rockport had something to do with it. If I saw this before the race & if I was a betting man (which I’m not), I would have predicted exactly what had eventuated – it wouldn’t have been long during that first leg before they hated that shoe & subsequently don on foot attire they were accustomed to (it would seem feasible to assume that they prepared in advanced to do this). On the other hand, if we were to put a Rockport wearer in a pair of huaraches at the start, then my assumption would be that he/she would be donning on the Rockports at the first aid station. There is much to be said as to the reasons why, which can’t be delved into now, albeit interesting.

    I don’t think so. It was obvious that at least Nike (with the Free 5.0) & Vibram (with the Classic – despite the fact it was said to be designed as a "boating shoe") was thinking down this path well before the 2009 book release. Back in 2004 I was excited with the Free 5.0 (Nike not long after brought out the 4.0) & thought it was just a matter of time before other companies came out with their alternatives. However, I must admit it took longer than I expected.

    I’m sure the book had an element to play in the rate of increase popularity. I have recently written a post on another thread referring to the innate desire to fulfil an apparent void within us - to attract a need for a hero... gravitate towards a champion of a cause. I’m not saying this is the case for you but it seems to be the case of others – McDougall being an author of a book which has inspired many to try something a bit different, to challenge an engrained trend - a spokesperson for this apparent new enlightenment which goes against the norm/tradition, enshrouded in mystique (i.e. a "hidden tribe") whilst invoking intrigue (of "superathletes") – just a few more traits which attract individuals to a cause &/or prick one's consciousness (i.e. the media – of which McDougall is a part of – links with Associated Press). Many of which were not seasoned runners but new converts (which is a good thing)... providing they (with their unconditioned bodies) didn’t/don’t get injured which puts them off running for a while or for life. Unfortunately the REAL & PRACTICAL science was a bit slow to follow on this area... & hence all the discussion on this topic within Podiatry Arena (now with quite a few barefoot related threads – the top six of which in the Biomech. forum are barefoot related as of posting this) over the past few years... & the subsequent caution from the Podiatry field which in some cases has been unduly interpreted as criticism (sour grapes) of the barefoot/minimalist concept. A concept of which, by human nature has attracted what some may liken as religious fervour in the manner they represent & justify (which has included misrepresentation of data & use of pseudo-science) to support their now world view of running & foot attire. This subsequently attracts controversy & subsequent heated debates, not unlike other important topics such as "Global Climate Change" & dare I mention it (sorry), but the "Origins Of Life" (yet some topics/debates are allowed a more even playing field than others).

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand... i.e. those papers/research/evidence showing which way or the other regarding “Minimalist Shoe/Barefoot Running Injuries”.

  32. David Wedemeyer

    David Wedemeyer Well-Known Member


    That Matthew Thomas guy is 'sick'!
  33. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Thanks David... I think ;). It wasn't too long ago when that phrase would have only meant something totally different... if it wasn't for that banner wieldering smiley face I would be puzzled. You must be a young dude.

    Anyway, was looking into something today relating to this topic & found a couple of papers that could be of interest (if they haven't been cited already)...

    No doubt the first one has surfaced somewhere on here before...

    - Barefoot Running Claims and Controversies:
    A Review of the Literature

    - The Barefoot Debate: Can Minimalist Shoes Reduce Running-Related Injuries?

    - Running Barefoot or in Minimalist Shoes: Evidence or Conjecture?

  34. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Matt, I agree that labeling the Tarahumara as the greatest runners of all time is going over board. Although, the Tarahumara in general do have an impressive running culture. This culture allowed them to come to Leadville with NO formal race training, no organized race experience and out or their raw fitness from their daily life routine, win the race two years in a row. The second year, the course record of the 14 year old race was set by Juan Herrara. He had to beat Ann Trason in the process who was one of the greatest ultramarathon trail runners of the time for both men and women. Trying to compare them to the Africans or a world class trained marathoner is pointless.

    Rockport absolutely gave the Tarahumara the shoes they were wearing. I doubt they had trained in them because you could tell the shoes were fresh out of the box. Rockport gave me my shoes as well. For that matter, after a few years my closet was jammed with Rockport shoes that they were giving me. I'm sure that most of the Tarahumara dumped the Rockports at the first access point which is Tabor boat ramp, 7 miles into the run. I, on the other hand did train for many miles in Rockport shoes. I was willing to take a chance wearing them for 100 miles but not until I felt confident about running in them on several 40 and 50 mile training runs. What's probably more impressive is not the 100 mile race I did in Rockports but the 1000's of miles of training I did in them to prepare.

    Rockport was the primary sponsor of the Leadville Trail 100 for 3 years. Their primary reason for doing so was to develop a trail running shoe and to create interest in Rockport for trail running. They worked with experienced ultramarathon trail runners like me to capture reams and reams of feedback on their shoes as they developed the Leadville Racer. Ultimately Rockport came out with the Leadville Racer versions 1 and 2 as well as several models of lightweight hikers.

    The driving force behind Rockport entering the trail running shoe market was Tony Post who left Rockport and became the North American head of VIBRAM! When Post left Rockport, so did Rockport's interest in trail running shoes.

    This brings to mind what happened in the running shoe industry between the years the Tarahumara were at Leadville and the time Born to Run came out. There might have been people running barefoot and in minimal shoes and sandals but the BIG push in the running shoe industry at least in the 1990's was TRAIL RUNNING. In the 90's, every major running shoe company had a least a few models of trail running shoes. What was really interesting about the time period is that a lot of the major hiking boot companies decided to enter the market as well. The big companies that come to mind are The North Face, Solomon, Montrail and Merrell. Trail shoes were the biggest growing segment of the running shoe industry at the time, who had time to worry about minimal shoes? Trail running was the current craze. Even Rockport tried, unsuccessfully but they tried.

    By the time the 2000's rolled around, the trail running shoe segment had plateaued and for several years, the running shoe industry had nothing new and exciting to have fly off the shelves of the retail stores. So yes, there was the Nike Free and Vibram but I think they needed a little push because they really hadn't broken through as big sellers.

    A comment about Vibram and the whole "boat shoe" thing. While they might have been initially marketed that way when they entered the market in 2006, I know for a fact that Vibram was working with Barefoot Ted McDonald at that same time. Vibram was providing Ted with shoes to test on the 100 mile trail runs he was doing. I was having an email discussion with Ted about light trail shoes in 2006 after a post I wrote on the ultrarunning forum. Ted sent me some photos of the Vibram Classics that he was using for trail running. This might have been before the shoes even went on sale. My point is that even though the initial marketing might have followed the water shoe path, Vibram had every intent of working on Fivefingers as a running shoe and were having the shoe tested by runners at the time. My post on the ultrarunning forum was about the fact that I thought trail running shoes in general where way to heavy and clunky for doing 100 mile trail runs. That even on the most rugged trail races, a runner would be better wearing a light weight trainer than the over designed trail shoes of the time. Ted agreed and that is when he told me about VFF.

    I agree with you about the hero thing or at least the magic pill phenomenon. Running was truly ready for magic to happen. Whether that came in the form of a magic pill, divine wisdom or whatever, the running community was more than ready for the next solution to turn them into the next world class athlete. Being a die hard runner for almost 40 years by the time McDougall surfaced, I certainly was far from being naive about what he had to say.

    While it is easy to do, I am not going to criticize him or his book, that's not important nor is it mature or professional. What is important is that his book gave the shoe companies what they needed to plow millions into a shoe segment that really got very little attention prior to 2009. At this point, the chain reaction has been started, the public has and will continue to be inundated with new minimal shoe offerings until the market plateaus if it hasn't already. Then it will be time to wait for some new solution to running to come out that will again promise to turn the weekend jogger into a world class marathoner.

  35. David Wedemeyer

    David Wedemeyer Well-Known Member


    Meant with immense respect and praise, I enjoy your posts. Please excuse my jocular but well-intended humor on a Sunday morning. Kevin has been known to jokingly use the word as well I hear, must be a 'Cali' thing. I am after all a Californian, where 'sick' possibly originated from. I'm not a young 'dude' but I am at heart. Sorry for hijacking the thread:D
  36. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Thanks Dana for that history.

    Yes, I figured as much. I don't know too much about the ultra-running scene as I have a history & interest in main stream athletics (i.e. being middle distance runner turned distance runner). Hence the upmost respect for East African runners via their track, cross country & road performance.

    My interest in ultra-running is getting stronger.

    Yes, this area is interesting. Probably most experienced runners like yourself will realise that there is no real magic bullet or secret method to becoming a world class runner. Becoming a fast runner is something you can't buy or invent... it really comes down to a few things - of which are interrelated to each other i.e. genetics; determination to do the race specific training required; being consistent in doing the work day in day out & fuelling your body with optimal nutrition - it is this area (nutrition) I see that will provide greater insights to gaining better performance from one's self. Many runners do not lead particularly healthy lifestyles, thinking that running alone will suffice; yet optimal nutrition will aid better recovery & more efficient system for enhanced energy production.

    Thanks David - feeling is mutual. Just surprised to see the phrase used here. Despite this being a writing medium you start to get an idea of the persona of those you are dialoguing with ;). Keep it up.

    That's cool (I'm still stuck in the good ol 80's)... It's important to stay young at heart... & California is the place where it is required the most :rolleyes: (I wouldn't mind living there myself).
  37. JB1973

    JB1973 Active Member


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