The Truth About Sports Products: Barefoot Shoes

July 20, 2012 by Jamie Page


Last night BBC1 aired the Panorama: The Truth About Sports Products. Shelley Jofre and British Medical Journal joined forces to investigate the truths behind sports products.


After unraveling the myths of sports energy drinks, Shelley Jofre focusses her attention on running trainers and the shoe industry that is dominated by padded shoes.

Jofre begins her journey of discovery with Harvard Professor, Irene Davis, who explains the practice of 'specialist' running shoe shops prescribing, based on psuedo-science, different levels of support depending on the arch height and amount of pronation – a procedure even supported by the NHS.

Do structured shoes reduce the risk of injury?


No, says Professor Benno Nigg of the University of Calgary in Canada, who has focussed much of his 40 year academic career on the biomechanics of running. He confirmed the mainstream and conventional thinking was that cushioning and control were the key benefits of running shoes – however that idea has been proven wrong by recent studies, including the largest of its kind by the US Military, that showed no difference in the rate of injuries if runners were prescribed structured shoes meant to control how their foot lands as they run.



What about barefoot?


Harvard Professor, Daniel Lieberman, was on hand to provide some insight on running barefoot. Lieberman thinks we were born to run barefoot. He commented about barefoot running:

"We've come out of touch with our bodies…and many people are surprised that if you take your shoes off and go for a run, it feels good. Because there's no impact if you do it properly, it's a light and gentle way of running"



Leading the Revolution


Here at VIVOBAREFOOT we've been arguing, for a while now, that technique is everything and that running is a skill that needs to be learnt in order to run efficiently and injury-free. The foundation of skill requires maximum proprioception and any shoe that you wear should offer this sensory feedback.
After watching the programme Asher Clark, our Head Designer, commmented:


"It's nice to see cushioning and motion control getting the once over...with good intentions, ultimately, the industry attempt to improve performance and control injuries with the 'shoe' model has failed...injuries and bad performance are a result of lack of skill.

Fancy shoe technologies are so 80's it's all about barefoot."




Jofre took it to the next level, took off her shoes and and visited Irene Davis at her lab. Davis took Shelley through the process of running in trainers: "If you want to bin your trainers though you'll have to learn how to run in a different way, and it's not easy."
Professor Davis continued:

"70-80% of the people who run in standard running shoes land on their heel and have that very distinct impact peak.
Most people when they become barefoot when they run, they don't land on their heel because if you landed on your heel [the impact] goes all the way up through your knees and your hips.
So now without the support of the arches in your shoes your muscles have to work much harder.
You've deconditioned your feet by putting the support in them all the time.
It's like wearing a neckbrace for life and then you take that off and all of a sudden your floppy.
We're better off letting the foot move the way it's designed to move, we really do it a diservice when we start to contain it, support it and control it.
If you look at the shoes of athletes like Roger Bannister, they're very much like the minimal footwear of today."



For more information on Learning the skill of barefoot movement visit the VIVOBAREFOOT Training Clinic. There you can download our Barefoot Running Coach app, watch our Training videos, download our free Barefoot Running eBook, contact one of our Certified Barefoot Coaches, or even signup to an upcoming coaching course to Become a Barefoot Coach

  Ask The Experts,  Barefoot Running,  News,  Our Products,  Science,  Training Clinic,  Vivobarefoot

  Barefoot Research,  Bbc,  Davis,  Irene Davis,  Lieberman,  Nigg,  Panorama,  Shelley Jofre,  The Truth About Sports Products

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