Evidence behind Barefoot Running?

In preparation of a guest lecture I am preparing for a podiatry conference, I recently re-read a news report on one of the the current hot topics in fitness, ‘ barefoot running’. This article is of particular interest to me as I very much enjoyed being challenged in my thinking regarding running shoes and the role of “motion control” whilst reading the excellent book ‘ Born To Run- A Hidden Tribe, Super-athletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall. McDougall’s book is a riveting read, and brings into question how effective the changes in running shoe technology have been in reducing running injuries. Perhaps, however , the answer is more complex than just comparing ‘barefoot’ to ‘advanced shoe technology’? In order to understand our ancestors ability to run without shoes we perhaps need to consider factors such as diet, habitual activity, literal survival of the fittest (perhaps in our ancestral hunter gatherer times – if you couldn’t run you were unable to catch prey- or worse still became prey yourself- leading to genetic advantage of the skilled runner), life expectancy compared with today’s society where activity (and running) is a choice rather than a necessity of life. Regardless, have a read of this New York Times article and I’d love to hear what people think.

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