Its great to wear shoes if you are jumping, but not necessarily running. It is interesting that ground reactive forces were not significantly different for shod vs unshod conditions and that that knee flexion, angular velocity and power were higher for those “perceiving” that there would be more cushioning. It goes to show we are not smarter than our brain (we just think we are !).  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22Yeow%20CH%22%5BAuthor%5D Knee. 2010 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print] Shod landing provides enhanced energy dissipation at the knee joint relative to barefoot landing from different heights. Yeow CHLee PVGoh JC. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Division of Bioengineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

Shod landing provides enhanced energy dissipation at the knee joint relative to barefoot landing from different heights.

Barefoot Shoe Companies please take note. Barefoot-Natural Running: Fad or Trend

One question still remains, is this whole barefoot “thing” a fad or is it truly a trend that is here to stay ? The Gait Guys believe it has become entrenched enough now, in reputable research journals, that this is a firm trend that will not be going anywhere anytime soon.  The studies are just too convincing that there are benefits. However, Dr. Waerlop and I feel that there are risks for some folks.  Those mainly being that some foot types do not, and never will, have business being in such minimalistic shoes. We remained concerned about the misleading advertising, that these types of shoes will make everyone’s feet stronger. For some, they will, but most of the time strength education must be directed, so why would it be any different here ?  For example, there is a right way to do a squat, and a wrong way and merely doing more of them without guidance does not guarantee that the intended and proper motor patterns will be achieved. We all need direction when it comes to difficult things, like proper foot function.  Thus, merely putting on a minimalistic shoe does not mean that the correct patterns and strategies for foot strengthening are being automatically instituted. We see plenty of folks who are in minimalist shoes and yet still display toe hammering and clenching behaviors which are clearly not seen in strong feet, to the claims that these shoes will do it all are just not true.  And, for those that have challenged foot types and lower limb torsional issues (ie. FF varus, Rothbart Foot, cavovarus foot, excessive tibial varum and/or tibial torsion etc) these folks will likely trend towards local foot problems or injuries or issues further up the kinetic chain (hip, knee, low back etc).  Understandably, these are heavy medical terms and conditions that are very much out there in the running public. We know, we see them daily.  The problem could be that those providing the education do not have enough clinical background to know what these issues are let alone recognize them.  So how can they then draw these issues to the surface in educating the public ?  As I say in my lectures, “You first have to know what a platypus is in order to identify it.  Otherwise it is just a hedge hog with flippers and a duck bill.”  These underlying anatomic issues are the elephants in the room that everyone is missing, everyone except us.  We get the folks who are running in these minimalist devices and we get to see who never should have been in them in the first place.

The good thing is that many companies are setting up educational programs to help folks drop down into “minimalism 2.0” but still, to date, no one is talking about the elephants in the room, those being those foot types that are too risky to be in the shoes and even more specifically, how to strengthen the foot.  Merely putting the shoes on and wearing them does not mean the end user who already has challenged feet will begin to engage the correct muscular motor patterns.  But who would admit to those risks, that would be stupid advertising and product risk.  With 36+ clinical years we feel this is where we have some pull and can help.

Someone needed to be talking about the elephants in the room.  We finally decided that we had enough experience clinically, and with runners and shoes, to be that person. Agreeably, there is a danger in doing too much barefoot running too soon. We made this clear over the past few years as Biomechanics Advisory Board members for one of the big players in this game.  For us it is about “keeping them honest” as we like to say now. We are trying to make the calls on the products that have questionable statements and applaud those that stick their neck out but whom take our critique well.  We do not know everything, but we seem to know much more than most when it comes to the biomechanics of what is going in these products.  If you put 10 different feet in a product, you will get 10 different biomechanical presentations from the shoe. So, much of what is being missed is the education of what is going on with the parts that are in the shoe, and that is our world.  A major part of the barefoot or natural running trend are the problems that exist with the thing you are putting into all of these products, a person. A person who likely does not have the classic middle of the road, ‘Average Foot’ these shoes were designed around; that foot that all these companies base their research and dialogue upon.  To us, the most important thing for us to do is to raise the knowledge and awareness to the public, shoe companies and shoe stores that there is likely a ~10-15% standard deviation off of that average foot where their products will work as they claim.  Those other 70%, well…….they need us and they deserve to have us help them see the elephants in the room that no one is talking about.

If the collective goal of the natural running movement is to reduce injuries then the education MUST continue into educating the fabricators and running public of all of the issues at hand (or “foot” in this case) which should include talking about the elephants in the room.

Please help us get the message out. Wouldn’t it be great if this message went viral ? Send this to your friend who just bought a pair of “barefoot or minimalistic shoes”. Send it to your shoe store owner, your coach, your trainer, your doctor, therapist, your running club colleagues, your brother etc.

Lets educate everyone so this positive trend does not have a dark undercurrent that no one speaks of.

Shawn Allen, Ivo Waerlop………with almost 4 decades of clinical experience…..we are,  The Gait Guys

More garbage on the internet about running myths. We need a Gait Police. Wait ? Maybe that should be us ! This MSNBC article is exactly why we are trying to spread the word.  This article has so many half truths and misleadings that it isn’t even worth reading in our opinion. MAybe next time they will ask us for this kinda stuff. One of the first things you must know the next time you decide to watch your running in a mirror, or get a professional gait analysis done, is that what you see is not the problem…….so carry this main thought with you. * What you, or your gait analysis professional or your running partner behind you, see in that mirror or on that video is often not the problem.  How you are moving is your neuro-musculoskeletal system’s best interpretation to demonstrate a functional gait with the parts that ARE working correctly. In other words, what you are seeing is a best case scenario for the central nervous system to achieve stability most of the time. So, when your coach or therapist or gait “Specialist” tells you that you need to increase your arm swing on the right, or turn your left foot in……to make a correction towards what looks symmetrical to them and to you, please stop them and say “but that is not the problem, that is my strategy to run as best as i can. I am not doing those things because i have nothing better to do when i run!” And, even worse, tell them not to give you exercises to correct those visual flaws ! And educated person in the field of neuromusculoskeletal medicine has to make those recommendations based on the faulty sensory and motor patterns they assess, and the muscular weaknesses that are discovered.  Neuroadaptive changes are for a good reason, even though they may look bad. For example, a right foot might be turning out into the frontal plane for the good reason that your hip stability in the frontal plane is insufficient, and thus the best strategy determined by your central nervous system was to turn out the foot to better engage and protect that plane. It might not however, be logical to us to make the change so far away from the area of problem, but for those of us who do this daily over and over again, it makes pretty decent sense.  The patterns you display are neuromechanical strategies, strategies and compensations to best stabilize the body parts during the activity. It is obvious to the viewer that the pattern is wrong, but the brain has made these changes for a good reason. Don’t think you are smarter than your brain !  (how’s that for a final statement !) We are, The Gait Guys

5 crucial running mistakes ? Really ? Hogwash ! (click on title for the article link)

Asics Gel Speedstar 5

We were asked today to give our quick prelim opinion on this shoe. Aside from all the nice creature comforts of the new design it does not look too terribly different from previous models. I have the last model. I liked it. But, it was pretty curve lasted so, if this model is no different, and if you are a person with pronation control issues or if you still are not out of heel strike running you might not like this one. But it will allow you to mid-forefoot strike easier than the bulkier model trainers out there. It is light, sub 10oz. But our major concern is that it appears (we havent gotten a pair yet to cut them up, hopefully someone else will get to it and save us more work) that it still has a higher slope from a raised heel (>1:1) RF:FF (rear:forefoot ratio). From looking at my last pair and this one, i would be it still has about a 10mm heel rise over the forefoot height (maybe a few less if we are all lucky !, but we doubt it). Certainly better than more traditional trainers in this respect. This heel rise will inevitably still suggest or encourage heel strike. We have been pounding the floor for years to reduce this ratio…..we are so glad folks are finally listening. Maybe we can get fewer running injuries in our office and get a day on the beach with this new trend. Thanks to all the minimalist companies out there ! Just remember, walking is a different neuro-biomechanical task than running. Heel striking is not abnormal in walking because the heel rocker phase of gait is softer than in running. Also, remember, some foot types (forefoot varus, Rothbart, etc) are not likely to do well in these more minimalistic shoes ( a more curved lasted shoe could drive a foot more medially into it’s incompetent parts). Get evaluated by someone who knows what they are doing (in the doctors office and in the shoe store, that could be tough to find) so that your foot type, your running style and your shoes match up. Injuries are part of this recipe when the ingredients do not mix well !