Sunday, September 26, 2010

Barefoot Running , Minimalist Shoes and Beyond

The barefoot running movement has spawned a cascade of trends in the running shoe industry. The progression has been towards minimalist shoes the ever since Chris McDougall's seminal book "Born to Run". Prior to the sensation of “Born to Run” Vin Lanana has been using barefoot
running in training his runners at Stanford. He believed that incorporating barefoot running in training resulted in better times. When marketing executives from Nike visited him at the Stanford track they conceptualized a minimalist shoe; a shoe that simulate some of the elements of barefoot running yet provide some protection on the feet. needed to grasp and release on a variety of surfaces such as dirt, grass, road, concrete, and gravel.

Our profession should continue to play a leading role in setting parameters
for the new generation of minimalist shoes. It has become obvious to practitioners dealing with overly zealous runners transitioning to these shoes that they will end up in our offices with injuries. Although there are no injury data banks or studies to support these patterns the anecdotal cases should not be ignored.There seem to be more metatarsal fractures, achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis cases. In terms of trying to draw conclusions beyond clinical trends it has a non-polynomial solution. There are simply too many variables to factors to draw a conclusion. There are no current injury logs tracking injury patterns with barefoot and minimalist shoe conditions. This information could be something we as practitioners track.

There appear to be regional trends in terms of new purchases of minimalist shoes. While some mid Atlantic stores are reporting 10% of their sales with strict minimalist another 10% with very little structure some Florida markets are approaching 50% and this is often times based on requests by runners and not recommendations by the store.
Another trend that has fueled the industry is a self discovery desire by runners looking for more efficient techniques or a change to try to help alleviate chronic injuries. The self discovery applies to language that industry taps into. The industry has responded not only by cranking out more minimalist shoes but by scaling back shoes with multiple features. The other incentive for industry is the margins are better with less features and they are lighter to ship. Retailers that have responses later in the game have had to wait almost a full year for the most popular Vibram five finger shoe.

Also entering the market are recovery shoes. Most purists reject the idea of a recovery shoe and it remains to be seem whether this is simply a marketing ploy or a functional piece of recovery equipment.

Walking in another man’s barefeet

The old adage walking in another man’s shoeapplies to running barefoot because until we try it out we are not experiencing the sensations of barefoot running. Malcolm Gladwell had a pilot put him in a death spiral for a few seconds when he was writing about panic and using the JFK Jr. crash as a case study. It should be know different for us then when we are treating this population. Paul Langer, DPM runs extensively in ..

Propriopceptive input is one of the things that purists insist is the thing that prevents them from experiencing the same amount of injuries as in minimalist shoes. Biomechanics guru Benno Nigg Phd has supported the notion that feedback can affect injury rates. Declarations have already been made by some that there will be a paradigm shift away from stability shoes and orthotics.



Terry said...

Dr Ben - look forward to seeing further input. Much is out their and much has not been discussed

Shoaib Ashraf said...

Great Doctor visit today. I'll be following your blog, too!

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