Calm down! If my mom is reading this post, she may think that I’m being a little bit two racy with the headline on my blog. Really what were talking about here is going barefoot! Minimalist shoes have really taken off within the last five years. In fact, barefoot running has taken off quite a bit in the last five years. The problem with the claim being made, is that most of the people talking about it, or most of the buzz generated about it, is from word on the street. The average consumer doesn’t necessarily refer to the educational materials published by the manufacturer and this can create a problem! It’s true that most of us feel pretty comfortable going barefoot. And the concept of a shoe that is as close to barefoot as possible while still providing protection sounds pretty good! The comparison is often made to the barefoot runners who grow up without any shoes on their feet at all. Unfortunately, most of you and I include myself in this, did not grow up in the outback of Australia or the savannas of Africa! Our feet are not conditioned to that environment. We have not spent our entire lives with our foot adapting to that environment! But let’s just take an example of this, let’s take a 35-year-old male and shove his otherwise unprepared feet into a barefoot environment and ask him to perform all kinds of functions with nothing on his feet such as running a race. The conditioning just simply isn’t there! And injuries will often occur! Please do not misunderstand me here, there is room in a discussion for barefoot running and minimalist shoes. But it is one that should be brought about after a person has conditioned their foot structure and muscle tone to perform like that for strenuous activities. Now, that also does not include any discussion about the intrinsic stability of a person’s foot. I’ve not yet ever touched on foot types for selecting shoes so I won’t get carried away here. But let’s just say that there are certain types of feet for which a lack of stability underneath them is a bad idea!
Just so you know that I’m not a complete buzz kill, let me be me clear, the concept of barefoot actually is quite good. In fact most of the material that the manufacturer provides on their website points to the importance of conditioning the muscles and structure of the foot over time to be able to use their shoes. If the average consumer with an appropriate foot type, follows through with this regimen, there are actually some very beneficial effects upon the feet and ankles. A good many people do not spend the necessary time conditioning and strengthening the small muscles inside of their feet. For this reason, it is easy for them to develop lots of wear and tear on other structures in their feet and to develop little deformities over time. If you’re going to take on barefoot running please develop a conditioning program to strengthen your feet and be prepared for it. Vibram’s website is actually very helpful at this. They’ve got some great illustrations and pictures with a training regimen that when followed, works very well! You might try checking out their website for further details: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/education/index.html