When I hear, “Further research is needed” before barefoot running can be endorsed by the scientific, medical, health and fitness communities, my faith in the objective interpretation of available evidence flags again. Where has this protective caution been for the last fifty years with regard to the sales and use of modern running shoes? These willy-nilly, over the counter orthotic devices that materially alter natural gait are somehow accepted as normal, and even defended by these same “conservatives” while the self-evident, bare-footed facility human beings have developed and enjoyed over millions of years is offhandedly dismissed, or ignored. Even as current scientific evidence points to inherent problems with running shoes, and even with touted advances in shoe design, treatment and training protocols it’s a fact that recreational and competitive runners are still going to be injured, in epidemic proportions, in any given year, just by running. Still, few are willing to entertain the glaringly obvious reality that running shoes themselves could very well be the sole injurious agent.
Perhaps it’s human nature.
For starters, the renowned family therapist Salvador Minuchin once commented, “In response to new knowledge, there is always the question of how to maintain oneself doing the things one was trained in.”
Of course, some people are fascinated by bling. Flashy, shiny things. Visible technology and slick marketing. It’s similar to computer manufacturers learning that just placing a couple of LEDs on the front side of their boxes boosts sales. Or fishermen realizing that tuna would snap up anything— like a bare hook— thrown into their feeding frenzy.
Others think bare feet are indicative of primitive, unsophisticated societies, rather than being a characteristic of healthy, able bodies, and peoples. By uncovering the weak, disfigured feet of the habitually shod and comparing them with the strong, supple feet of those who have never worn shoes the ideas of basic cultural health and intelligence beg for reconsideration.
And then there’s the influence of industry. It sure seems that if there’s a dollar to be made, solutions will be created even for problems that don’t exist. As per Mark Twain, “Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”
Barefoot— no further research is needed.