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Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running?

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Unshod Ashish, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member

    Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    I am a middle-of-the-pack barefoot marathoner, writing a book on barefoot running. The focus is on injury prevention, not on setting new records.

    I'm looking for podiatrists who have a positive view of barefoot running and who are willing to be quoted saying so - the more substantial and science-backed your remarks, the better. How might older adults benefit from being barefoot? How does being barefoot affect balance?

    If you have a science-backed but critical view of barefoot running, your thoughts are welcome too, although you should understand that the book as a whole is very positive on barefoot running, and negative on bulky running shoes.

    Either way, if you're interested in being quoted, I'd be glad to hear from you.


    -unshod ashish
  2. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    Welcome Ashish,

    You may find it useful reading some of Dr Steven Robbins work from the 1990's. All of his research articles are availble for free on his website.

  3. Asish:

    I don't understand. You want us to only give you "science-backed" comments in your barefoot running book? I assume, then, that everything you will write in your book about all the "very positive" benefits of barefoot running will also be "science-backed"? Should be a very short book.

    Could you provide all of us here just one "science-backed" article that shows that barefoot running produces less injuries than running in shoes?
  4. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member

  5. The burden of proof lies with the one making the statement; in this case you.

    What studies can you cite which demonstrate "that barefoot running produces fewer injuries"- rhetoric. The answer is none.
  6. David Smith

    David Smith Well-Known Member


    We were born without a crash helmet too but I bet you wouldn't argue that hitting you head off a wall, when you crash your motor bike, is better without one.

    You are quite entitled to write a book on anything you like but if as you say you are "mainly focused on injury prevention" then shouldn't you be weighing up ALL the evidence to find out which condition supports or invalidate your premise with the highest probability??

    Regards Dave
  7. In science, it is traditional to consider the evidence (which includes expert opionion) BEFORE deciding on the conclusion. To state the overall conclusion, then seek expert opinion to support it, is at best, bad science.
    Love the analogy Dave. One might also consider that we were born naked, but tend to struggle without clothes. Or that from an evolutionary point of view, we are not really DESIGNED to live outdoors.

    Here, then, is a quote I am happy to have attributed to me Ashish,
    I'm inclined to doubt that you'll include that. But if you do, no charge.
  8. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member

    Yes. I'd like to do that. The book isn't just "what Ashish thinks." I include several perspectives that are not my own. I interview some people whose views REALLY differ from my own.

    That's why I'm here with an invitation to any podiatrist who would like to be quoted in my book.

    But the crash helmet analogy - I don't really think that adds useful content to my book. Do you? I mean, I could use that, but I could also follow up by poking holes right through it. That's just fear. Do you have data showing that running is like being in a motor bike crash? I could use that. Do you see what I'm driving at?

    If you want to be quoted in my book, let me know - it gets your name out there. I am here to gather a different (informed, non-snarky, non-hater, non-fear inducing) podiatrist perspective, and not to engage in a pissing match on this forum.

  9. Do you have data which demonstrates that barefoot running results in fewer injuries than shod running, as was your contention a few posts back? I could use that.
  10. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member

    That is a great quote - no promises, but I may use it. One request: can you rewrite it with a word other than "dicky," which will be unfamiliar to Americans? Thanks.

    Now I imagine you are not prescribing shoes/orthotics on such a general principle: we wear glasses, therefore we should wear shoes. Does anyone here have a specific remark to make about the benefits of shoes? Maybe this is Podiatry 101 for you guys, but what I'm trying to do in my book is separate the science/medicine from the assumptions.


    -unshod ashish
  11. Give up boys. The man got you beat. I've tried walking and it really is nothing like being in a motorbike accident.

    Do you have evidence that running barefoot on natural, undulating terrain of various textures is the same as running barefoot on solid, uniform, unyeilding tarmac?

    Sorry Ashish. As somebody (a barefoot runner) once told me, Nobody will find something harder to understand than a man's whose livelyhood depends on them NOT understanding. By your own statement you are out to publish a book which is pro barefoot running. I fear your view of information / opinion to the contrary position will always come across as "hating". That really is not what is happening here. Frustration is probably the worst.

    You guys don't get dicky tummies? How about gippy. Or just replace it with "food poisoning".
  12. Oky doky.

    So far as the sciece though, be clear on what it is. Science is about investigation, and an understanding of how the foot works. That is NOT what you are talking about.

    But if you want something on "base principles"

  13. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    This is a close contender for quote of the year. Unshod Ashish whilst conversing with the likes of Dr Kevin Kirby and Dr Simon Spooner:


    Ashish may I be so bold as to state that the potential publication of this book is really only about one particular person who 'wants their name out there'...

    Whilst we are on the subject of publication, at what stage of the process are you at? On the one hand you are asking for help writing it, but on the other we will be able to buy it on Amazon soon?? I presume you have a publisher already - out of interest who is it?

    The irony here being that (given the less than ideal publication process) if this book ever makes it to print then by the time it does we may even have some actual science to talk about. It just won't be in your book.

    As my learned colleagues have already alluded to - you appear to be writing a book about the 'scientific' proof behind why barefoot running is superior to shod running with respect to injury prevention, yet you have already got a draft conclusion in your head to fit your own lens. Research methods 101. Fail.
  14. DaVinci

    DaVinci Well-Known Member

    That’s nonsense. Not one study has shown that there is any benefit to barefoot running. This claim has been made numerous times in this thread : Debate on Barefoot Running. Have you not noticed that none of those claims stack up to scrutiny. That does not mean that there are no benefits.
    We were also born without a lot of things, but we still do them. Are you also writing about them as well? Can you not see the flawed logic?
    Because its the barefoot running community that are making the claims that it produces less injuries!! The burden of proof is on them to back up what they are saying. We all know that its not the case at all:

    Vibram FiveFingers Cause Metatarsal Stress Fractures?
    The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic
    Why are barefoot runners getting so many injuries?
    "Top of Foot Pain" from Barefoot Running
    So you trying to prove barefoot is better because shoes are bad. Can you not see the flawed logic? If barefoot running was any good, why can it not stand on it own two feet (excuse the pun). This is like trying to prove Islam is right because Christianity is wrong. Christianity may or may not be right or wrong, but what has that got to do with proving Islam is any good or not. Islam should be able to stand on its own two feet. Can you not see the flawed logic?
  15. Yeah, you ask him! As many times as it takes ;)
  16. Now, now. Neither Prof. Kirby nor I are omnipresent. Kevin's profile is much higher than mine because he has written far more than me.

    Back to the moot point and the burden of proof: show me the evidence that suggests that barefoot running results in fewer injuries than in shod runners. What was your name again? "Unshod" or "barefoot" something or other. I hope your book makes a name for you. In my experience "names" mean little. Yet, I suspect you aim for something other than having your name known.

    "She's the dollars
    She's my protection
    Yeah she's a promise
    In the year of election
    Oh sister, I can't let you go
    Like a preacher stealing hearts
    At a traveling show
    For love or money money money
    money money money money money
    money money money
    And the fever, getting higher
    Desire, desire, desire, desire"

    Sleep well y'all (as the Devil counts your soul? Or should that be soles?)
  17. David Wedemeyer

    David Wedemeyer Well-Known Member

    I nominate this for quote of the year! Solid logic David that will undoubtedly be lost on those with an agenda.
  18. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member

    Ok. Thanks for replying.

    If understand your approach, it's: let's understand how the foot works, and thereby figure out how to make it better. I can understand that approach.

    Can you see the merit of another approach: what empirically works to reduce injury?

    This second approach does not require any knowledge of the inner workings of the foot, and at the end of the day, it's about the result for the runner/patient. Can you see its appeal?

    I was a chronically injured runner for twenty years, saw many well-known podiatrists, orthopedists, etc., wore inserts, orthotics, etc., until in frustration one day I threw away the shoes, against their advice, and I've been fine ever since. Although older, heavier, etc. Many others have the same story. Does that not at least pique your curiosity?

    I should add that my interest is solely in barefoot (skin to ground) running, and not in Vibrams or Nike Frees.

    -unshod ashish
  19. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Unshod, I have a few thoughts, suggestions. Up front, you should know that I'm not a medical professional, not that it matters because my advice will not be medical. I really don't see the value of packaging a series of quotes from a group of podiatrists. It will result in nothing more than a pile of unsubstantiated testimonials about a subject that doesn't have a lot of supporting evidence for or against.

    Rather than quotes, I would suggest you dig into all of the research you can find that is connected with barefoot running and injury prevention. Secondly, dig into all of the research you can find that is connected to shod running and injury prevention. Take the published research and come up with some conclusions based on what you find.

    As a runner, I would find a book written by someone who has done all of the legwork by digging through the research to be of value. Reading anecdotal quotes wouldn't really do much for me.

    Having said that, the problem you are going to find is that there won't be a lot of research to commit an entire book to. Since that is the case, why write the book?

    Aside from an apparent lack of material, why do you believe it is important to write a book about barefoot running? What are your goals for the book? What do you believe will be accomplished? Why is it so important to convince experienced or new runners that running barefoot is the way to go?

    I have always leaned towards light shoes including VFFs. I do not run barefoot because I run almost exclusively on the sharp, rocky trails of the Colorado mountains, 12 months of the year. Running barefoot simply is not practical for me. My experience supports my decision to favor minimal shoes but I have never felt compelled to try to convince other runners about what to wear or not wear.

    The many debates or discussions on this forum have been about unsubstantiated claims. Why do claims have to be made at all? If you find that running barefoot works for you, that is great. I don't think a book about it will change my running habits simply because I am not looking for change. I am confident I am making an informed decision about what I wear on my feet. I am concerned that new runners will unknowingly jump into something that looks like a good idea and is trendy, only to hurt themselves. The problem with our society is we like to jump into things and do too much too soon. We also like to take the all or nothing approach. Combining those two tendencies together with anything related to running is asking for problems.

  20. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I can quote you many runners who have had the exact opposite experience. You see them popping up more and more. They got worse injuires from running barefoot. Some are somewhat "bitter and twisted" that the fell for the hype and lies about the research.
    Which is exactly and we seeing more of what Davinci pointed out:
    It appears to me that for every barefoot runner that claims that they are now injury free, there is one (or more) claiming the opposite.
  21. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member


    Thanks for your response.

    Why does anyone write a book? There must be easier ways to make a living. I write because I love to run, I especially love the health benefits of running, and I want to share those with others. I write because I'm sorry to see fellow runners (30 year olds with damaged hips and ruined knees!) sidelined by injury, as I was for so many years. I'm especially sorry because I know it is in many cases unnecessary.

    And I write because the more I look in to this, the more I am frustrated and furious at what often seems like a deliberate campaign of fear and deception around running shoes. For one common instance, calling Vibram injuries "barefoot running injuries." (Or see above for my comment about drug approvals and the FDA.)

    I don't expect anyone to run barefoot because of what I say or even less what some researcher in a lab says. And if you're not injured, I wouldn't expect you to change anything about your footwear - I'm quite clear about that.

    I do expect and hope that chronically injured runners, and especially Americans who don't exercise at all "because my knees hurt," will examine their assumptions about shoes and injuries with an open mind. Since I don't have a Nobel Prize in physiology, and since what I am suggesting will seem new, at least to an American audience, I reference lots of research. The research is "in support," not the main driver, of the choice to run barefoot.

    To answer your last question, I hope that my book will bring healthy running and a healthy life to some who might otherwise have given up on exercise. As I almost did.

    -unshod ashish
  22. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    How is that any different to the deliberate campaign of fear and deception being perpetuated by the barefoot running community?
  23. Unshod Ashish

    Unshod Ashish Member

    Most of the injured runners mentioned in those links were running in Vibrams. It's hard to say whether it's "most" or "all," because Vibrams runners usually say they are running "barefoot" until carefully questioned. I'm pretty clear about not recommending Vibrams. So at least we can agree on that.

    If you, personally, have treated foot injuries in runners who were running exclusively barefoot, 100% skin to ground, no Vibrams no Nikes no Huaraches no Pumas no racing flats no aqua socks and no regular heavy shoes, then I'd be glad to include your injury report, recommendations, etc.


    -unshod ashish
  24. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Yes I have and they no longer run barefoot. Anyone who works in a running injury clinic probably has as well (all the ones I talk to certainly have seen a number; and if you consider barefoot runners make up <0.1% of runners, they are makiing up a lot more than 0.1% of the runners seen in these clinics. Look at ths quote from one of Davinci links:
    Perhaps barefoot running should also come with the same FDA warning that you are advocating for running shoes :hammer:
  25. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    It is axiomatic that in a situation of faith versus science the faithful will never be persuaded by mere facts. This is certainly the case here.

    However, Unshod, if you really want to come on to a site such as this, where practitioners spend all their lives working with foot pathology and request contributions to an unscientific book provided that the contributors have a 'positive view' of your concepts, then at least have the courtesy to reply to those contributors who have asked you to provide proof of your claims.

    I am very happy that you enjoy barefoot running; however, in the big wide world of lower limb pathology that fact alone is meaningless.

    W J Liggins
  26. Ashish:

    Running barefoot is sooooo old that it has already gone out of style. By the time your book is published, barefoot running will already be behind the times!

    I'm writing a book about the only truly natural form of running.....Naked Pumpkin Running!!

    I believe our ancestors chased down their prey in the savannahs of Africa without any clothes on, but with pumpkins on their heads. The hunted animals, in their confusion of seeing pumpkins chasing them, succumbed to this hysterical event and were very easy prey for these enterprising ancestors of ours.

    The evidence is definitely there to support my views on Naked Pumpkin Running. This is the way we should be running, like our ancestors did.....no clothes....only pumpkins covering our craniums! Of course there is no existing evidence that our ancestors actually had pumpkins on their head while running in the early days of human existence, but since so many people are now running with pumpkins on their heads and aren't getting injured in doing so, then it must be the best way to run. Our naked pumpkin ancestors' skeletons may have survived, but, unfortunately, their pumpkins have been lost to history.

    Check my upcoming book that will soon be available on Amazon.com titled "Goodbye Barefoot Running, Hello Naked Pumpkin Running". You'll just have to buy it to read all about the latest and most holistic way to run. If you want to contribute to my book, I could probably make you famous by quoting you on your opinions regarding your infinitely less intelligent way of running, with clothes on and without a pumpkin on your head!! Of course, my book will be biased toward Naked Pumpkin Running and it's obvious health benefits, so please keep your comments to only scientific evidence that supports that barefoot running actually prevents injuries. That should narrow it down to exactly zero scientific studies....about the same number of scientific studies that show that Naked Pumpkin Running is a more injury-free way to run. But hey Ashish....I won't let a little thing like a lack of scientific evidence to support my beliefs get in the way of me writing my book....because the really informed people know that the only way to run injury-free is without any clothes on and with a pumpkin on their head!:rolleyes:
  27. flipper

    flipper Member

    Kevin that last post was clasic! A literal LOL

    Ashish, its completely up to you to write the book if you want. But please don't use the word or phrase "science" or "barefoot science" because it kills a part of me every time i hear it. Somebody called 'Barefoot man' who writes a heart felt opinion in a blog or book on the wonders of BF running is not science. Neither is taking quotes out of context.
    If you can write the book and refrain from saying "studies show BF running reduces injury" (because we dont know that) or anything to that effect then go ahead. Apparently Propaganda didn't work out too well for Hitler so don't go down that road.
    In fact if you can say "in MY opinion which is based on NO facts, stats, or conclusive evidence and only based on weak papers and the relatively small population of barefoot and forefoot runners" then I would probably buy the book as it sounds like more of a balanced view (which is what the people need) and may be interesting to read.
    If your beef is with running shoe companies and the claims they make. then maybe you should rise above them and contribute towards an actual scientific study (with all th bells and whistles) that points us in the right direction, which ever that may be.
    To be honest there is probably only enough flimsy research to put together a review of literature on the subject at most. Books tend to be long and there isn't enough on the subject to do that - assuming you want to do it properly?

    I say this because you are heading down the track of being riped a new one and that no fun at all.

  28. Not really.

    The thing with empirism is that it is fundamentally flawed, for several reasons. It takes no account of controlling and associated factors. Worse is when we use the word empirism in the same sentance as the word science!

    For eg. If I took a poll of the experience of 4 year olds at Christmas, most would report evidence in favour of father Christmas.

    Another prioblem is the selection criteria of your peers. I suspect you are in contact with lots of barefoot runners BECAUSE they are barefoot runners. Thus you have, without trying, zoned in on a group with the same experiences as you. I do the same at church. Everyone there believes in God. That does not mean that everyone in the country does, nor that God is real.

    Lastly, you bring your empiricism to the table... But so do I! And where foot injury is your hobby, it's my job. I bring knowledge and experience of literally thousands of injuries where you bring, at best, dozens. I work in paeds so the closest I see to barefoot running is kids doing PE in either plimsoles (which offer next to no support) or barefoot. My experience is pretty overwhelmingly that when kids come in with pain after PE , putting them in trainers stops them hurting.
  29. While not trying to turn this into a history discussion, this caught my eye.

    I would say Propaganda did workout for Hitler he had a whole nation ready to do anything all due to the propaganda machine, Russian winters, supply lines, being a megalomaniac asshole, racist nazi wanker etc etc etc did not and thank your God or lucky stars that it did not work out for the prick.

    Sorry all a bit serious

    Blues Brothers Nazi scene

    So using the example of propaganda we have alot of it from both sides of this debate.

    The question we should all be asking ourselves is why barefoot running works for some and why shod running in very stabile or highly cushioned shoes works for others. If we can work this out then our clinical understanding of the foot will improve.

    Right best put the soap box away for a little while.
  30. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    Bill brings up a great point:

    So Ashish, just to remind you of some of the questions you have dodged so far:

  31. flipper

    flipper Member

    I was getting at where he ended up etc. Blinded by his personal quest yada yada.. Enough on Hitler as its probably not the best thing to bring up.. my bad

  32. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Ashish, hopefully we will some day understand what is causing that.

    Who is leading this campaign of fear and deception? The statement has elements of paranoia. I have always felt it has been completely my choice regarding whether I wear shoes or not and the type of shoes I wear. When I go into a running shoe store or shop on line for running shoes, I feel like an 8 year old in a candy store. My passion for running penetrates to my core. Running shoes are the only piece of equipment that matters when running (well, except for the pumpkin, I'm from Boulder). I look at running shoes as tools to support my passion as well as toys to support my spirit. Consequently, at any given time, I'll own 10 different pairs of running shoes. I have never felt I purchased a single pair of shoes over the past 40 yrs based on fear or deception. Let's get real, I've been doing this long enough to know what running shoes can do and can't do for me. If I have any questions about how a given pair of shoes will work for me, I won't hesitate to just buy them and try them out. The only pressure I feel about buying running shoes is my own uncontrollable curiosity. The members of this forum can certainly attest to how much I've bored them with my Vibram experience!

    Running is only one exercise alternative. Americans in general don't exercise because they either don't see it as a priority or they are too lazy. The hurting knee thing is nothing more than an excuse. I used to swim and cycle as well when I was training for Ironman Triathlons, both great fitness sports that you can do with knee issues. In addition to running, I have been a member of an athletic club for over 25 yrs where I weight lift to supplement my running. Over the 25 yrs, I have been able to observe the habits of Americans in the gym. My biggest observation is the fact that most exercise programs last a few weeks before people quit. It has nothing to do with sore knees or running shoes, rather it is about lack of commitment to health and fitness.

    Running barefoot, like exercise in general will be short lived with the average American. For the long term athlete who is committed to a lifetime of healthy exercise, they have probably already figured out what works and doesn't work for them. They may try barefoot running and if they find it beneficial, I would place odds that they might use it as a supplemental training tool rather than as a way of life.

  33. You know, Dana, sometimes you make great observations. This is one of your best.:good:
  34. eddavisdpm

    eddavisdpm Active Member

    We were born without shoes. We were also born without clothes. Have you ever considered running without clothes? :bash:
    Shoes, clothes, shelter were created by man in order to adapt to the environment we live in. Man created asphalt, concrete, broken glass, nails....
    I think that there are some reasonable arguments to be made for the manner in which shoes as protective devices have allowed us to become lazy about our running form but it has been a long time since the Stone Age.

    Ed Davis, DPM
  35. NeedingMassage

    NeedingMassage Active Member

    Take a walk! You squabble over the better way to run - barefoot or shod - and which produces less injuries but you blindly accept running as if necessary. No creature, primal or otherwise, choses to run more than is necessary to sustain life: human discretionary running is a recent phenomenon closely followed by the advent of podiatry.

    You may quote me.
    Owen Greenfield.
  36. So I suppose that all of the running sports that humans have done over thousands of years is "necessary to sustain life"? Have you ever seen animals play? Do they run during their play? Sounds like you need to realize that not everyone thinks that walking is the best form of locomotion for the well-being of the human animal.
  37. Does raise an interesting thought though, Kevin. What is the longest time/ farthest that any animal excluding humans will run in a single sustained burst? Which animal is it? The Greater Road-runner?
  38. Ah yes. Acceleratti incredibilis.

    I'd guess at a camel. In general, the faster an animal moves, the quicker it tires. But That is only a guess.
  39. It's probably a sled dog, but we have genetically modified these for this purpose. Horse?
  40. I'd guess a Camel has more stamina than a horse, Its less geared toward escaping predators and more toward covering distances.

    How about ostrich? You never see them in reeboks.

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