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Thread: Talkback: Rise Of The Barefoot...

  1. #1
    Widdler Paul Hike-Lite's Avatar
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    I admit to having been completely convinced of the argumments for what is called barefoot running but is better described as "barefoot style" running.

    I recently started a blog about barefoot running which has a number of articles that go into much more detail on the subject if anyone is interested.

    You can find it here:

    http://www.barefootathlete.co.uk/blog/

    Regards
    PAUL

  2. #2
    Widdler Paul Hike-Lite's Avatar
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    I admit to having been completely convinced of the argumments for what is called barefoot running but is better described as "barefoot style" running.

    I recently started a blog about barefoot running which has a number of articles that go into much more detail on the subject if anyone is interested.

    You can find it here:

    http://www.barefootathlete.co.uk/blog/

    Regards
    PAUL

  3. #3
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    How can you possibly call running in shoes, however light, barefoot running? Barefoot running is just that; running with bare feet.

    Call it "Minimal footwear running", "racing flats running", "forefoot striking", maybe, but definitely not "barefoot running". I don't think the term should be hijacked, or abused. And if some studies do show the benefits of running barefoot, these should not be hijacked to claim (without proof) similar benefits for running in light footwear, especially when those claims are made by the vendors of the same footwear.




  4. #4
    Ultra King Martin Carpenter's Avatar
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    One other thing which has genuinely intrigued me is how much all of this applies to walking. Seemingly all the studies quoted were done for running?

    Now lighter/flexible shoes are certainly nice for walking in, but I'm not convinced how much of a heel strike a normal walking gait in flexible footwear has. Or that some cushioning isn't handy for really long days etc.

  5. #5
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    I would guess (based on self-assessment of my own gait) that a heel strike in walking is fairly common in folk who're used to shoes. I walk around barefoot indoors a lot, and a moderate amount outdoors, and it's quite clear that I walk quite differently in and out of shoes with a pronounced heel strike when shod unless I actively think to change it (which I've been doing a fair bit lately).

    Despite working quite hard on toughening up my feet and getting onto my fore-feet over recent years I still find something bteween me and the ground is desirable on hard surfaces over any sort of distance.

    Pete.

  6. #6
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    If not landing heel first made for more efficient walking, this would probably have occurred to Olympic race-walkers, not to mention the rest of humanity. Not that there needs to be any 'heel-strike' whatsoever, as when walking your body weight can be substantially supported by your rear leg as your lead foot touches down, albeit heel first. A little cushioning might be useful, but you can argue that as this often raises the heel it reduces stride length, soaks up energy and proprioception, so the less the heel is raised the better. And you can also argue that what 'shock' there is from landing should be absorbed by all the structures of the foot, ankle (especially), knee and leg, rather than by a device below your heel. High heels full of "Shock absorption" are a relatively recent invention of the running shoe industry; the sort of leather shoes people used to wear had none, nor ever have fell shoes such as the Walsh PB racer, which have been around for decades. Now Inov-8 are winning innovation awards for designing very similar footwear! Poor old Norman!

  7. #7
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    Though the PB has always assumed the ground can do a lot of cushioning for you. Having worn a pair on hard tracks and roads I know they're not much cop for that.

    The degree to which a foot will absorb impact will vaty according to its exact physiology. Mine aren't too good at it, with quite pronounced arches. My knees taking blows and suffering from it was one reasonI looked into reducing the degree to which I heel strike. It's also reduced the degree to which I over-pronate, which also seemed to be feeding back into my knees.

    I've not got any "barefoot" footwear, I just make a point of not landing quite so hard on my heels.

    Pete.

  8. #8
    Ultra King Matt C's Avatar
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    "If not landing heel first made for more efficient walking, this would probably have occurred to Olympic race-walkers, not to mention the rest of humanity."

    I knew there was a particular definition of 'walking' for racing purposes. I imagined that it included having to have the heel strike the ground first, but it doesn't...

    "Race walking defined
    IAAF rules spell out the differences between running and walking. Competitors who cross the boundary from walking to running during a race walk are cited for ‚??lifting‚?Ě infractions. Basically, the walker's front foot must be on the ground when the rear foot is raised. Also, the front leg must straighten when it makes contact with the ground."


    I would imagine the requirement to straighten the front leg on contact might prove to be at odds with any technique that doesn'tland on the heel? Dunno, just curious really, but I wonder if that might explain why race-walking hasn't demonstrated any interest in this?

  9. #9
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    That leaves the rest of humanity, for whom there are no rules, but yet who still, universally, land on their heels under nearly all circumstances when walking. A good chance that it's the right way to do it. Just try walking landing on the balls of your feet first for a bit! It is very slow. Not to mention seriously mincing. It's different on steeper ground - a forefoot landing becomes hard to avoid. I'm a great fan of genuine barefoot running btw, I can run truly barefoot on tarmac or pavement for modest distances, and used to run barefoot up the fells outside Glasgow too .. (though the downside is that downhill you have to be very very careful!).

  10. #10
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    That leaves the rest of humanity, for whom there are no rules, but yet who still, universally, land on their heels under nearly all circumstances when walking.

    That's not true. With no conscious effort on my part I will walk across something like fine gravel when barefoot with a forefoot strike. It is simply a more comfortable way to do it.

    Pete.

  11. #11
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    I use a pair of those PB Walshes and before that Montrail Highlanders and Innov8s. All of those have minimal cusshioning. I use them for walking, backpacking and challenge walks. Basically my use involves heel strike and through the minimal cushioning I have no problems. I do have a problem with the inside edge of my instep on rocky terrain. The tissue around the bone there becomes sore and although it doesn't bruise it is sore for the week. Since I am out every week if I am continuously walking on rocky terrain at the weekends then it build up and I have to take a break. If I ran and used forefoot impact I am sure this would be made worse so heel strike first works for me.

    I agree that wearingshoesdoes not equate to goingbare foot no matter how little there is betweem you and the ground. Lets not continue this marketing BS. Also IIRC Nike have been making those for years too. IIRC the original running shoes had minimal cushioning. It is not just PB Walsh who have been doing that. Adidas started with what we now call trainers I beleive and they had little in the way of cushioning or even little between the runners foot and the ground. Old technology re-branded perhaps???? Just an idea, have the marketing mandarins made a new way to remove money from us by generating a new market out of old tech?

    Sorry but I am just a big cynic. BTW I walked barefoot in the early summer over the Dale Head - Robinson range for a bit. I found that I slipped a lot mnore on the grass in barefeet. Anyone else come across barefeet being slippy compared to fell shoes? I actually thought it could be dangerous on steep grassy slopes, especially if a little bit damp.

  12. #12
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    Descending steep wet grassy slopes barefoot is indeed dangerous (not to mention nearly impossible). I agree that Walsh didn't invent anything - pretty much all racing and running shoes were minimalistic in his era, including the early Nikes and Adidas. All Walsh did was put studs on a racing flat for fell runners, though he originally used a kind of serrated sole.

    Alas, I fear we are doomed to a whole load of marketing BS about 'barefoot running shoes'. One of the most ludicrous is the MBT - which claims to be "Masai Barefoot Technology", yet has one of the thickest, highest, squidgiest midsoles there has ever been on a shoe, that totally decouples your forefoot and toes from the ground.

  13. #13
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    Wasn't the serrated or "waffle" sole something to do with an American running coach? Might be wrong.

    One thing I heard about Walshes is that you can actually get their fell shoes re-soled. I very much doubt that innov8s can be re-soled, especially since the ones me and my friends ahve all fall apart in the upper before the sole gets fully worn down to an unusable state.

    I'm not sure if that is all the Walsh range or just the more specialist fell shoes. I have some spirits (the new ones with the red bits on them) that are close to wearing out on their soles. They have worn down at the heel. No a big problem but it means they have become a little bit dodgy on steep, wet rock descents. I'm nota runner so probably use my heel more than runners. Excellent shoe though. The uppers are still in good condition so I do wonder if they can be re-soled.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Clinch View Post

    That leaves the rest of humanity, for whom there are no rules, but yet who still, universally, land on their heels under nearly all circumstances when walking.

    That's not true. With no conscious effort on my part I will walk across something like fine gravel when barefoot with a forefoot strike. It is simply a more comfortable way to do it.

    Pete.

    It isindeedtrue. Notice the clause "under nearly all circumstances". Tentatively crossing sharp, stony, gravelly ground is one of the remaining circumstances. As would be getting in a bath.

  15. #15
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    Anyone else come across barefeet being slippy compared to fell shoes?

    On muddy/grassy ground almost everything is slippy compared to fell shoes (football (or similar) boots and XC spikes would besimilarly good, but neither would be much fun scrambling...

    Pete.

  16. #16
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    ttg - yep the original bill bowermann nike had a waffle sole - like a grid -a wee bit like inov-8 roclites. The original walsh was serrated - the forefoot 'teeth' went one way, the heel ones the other. And yep, you can get Walsh PB type shoes resoled, for £18 here, which does make them more of a sustainable product.

  17. #17
    Ultra King Peter Clinch's Avatar
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    Notice the clause "under nearly all circumstances".

    "For Some Values of nearly all", in that case. I can think of plenty of terrains that might actually be fairly normal for large barefoot populations in the developing world to walk over to be the sort of thing that would lead to less of a heel strike. A dried and rutted mud track, for example, or a very wet and slippy mud track where you don't want to sit down in a hurry.

    "Nearly all" to me suggests it'd need to be a footnote to be an exception, but if you're pulling in "the rest of humanity" that has to include a few million without access to shoes and smooth walking space.

    Pete.

  18. #18
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    I really like how the five fingers feel to wear, but I've made the mistake of doing too much too soon. I was anxious to get good use out of them, and now I'm dealing with stress fractures. VERY FRUSTRATING! I felt okay during a 4 mile run the other day on concrete, but now I have pain. It's worse in my left foot than my right by a considerable margin, and now I'm forced to rest for several weeks so I don't make it any worse than it already is. It's a huge downer! I'm really pretty ticked off, but hopefully they'll heal quickly and when I start again, I'll just have to do like a mile or less to build up strength. I do like the product, it's just that I really have to watch the mileage until my feet adapt properly to the change from traditional running shoes.
    psbreak

    FiveFingers Outdoor Sport Shoes

    FiveFingers Shoes

  19. #19
    Initiate woozle's Avatar
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    I've been barefoot mountain hiking and scrambling for a couple of months now and find it difficult to believe anyone could possibly walk barefoot with a normal heel strike gait. It's just too painful. In any case if you look at anyone walking barefoot on, say, gravel, they automatically change gait after a couple of steps without realising it. Bonobos when walking on two legs strike either flat or ball first. I don't think there can be any doubt that barefoot is 'natural' but we have obviously had generations to get used to shoes both physically but above all mentally and radically changing idea for most people is not ever going to be something they want to do.
    In my own personal experience I've not found any disadvantages so far. Quite the opposite infact (I'm still keeping an open mind though). I use the term barefoot to mean exactly that. It seems completely stupid (there's a thing!) to use barefoot to mean anything else. And so far, i have noticed that barefoot is different as an activity, from shod walking. It's a whole other approach to locomotion and deserves another word all of its own. Though I haven't tried them yet I think with five finger type shoes it has to be different to walking barefoot. The pace barefoot is slower but for a reason. Steps are shorter which (for me) means not over-stretching and therefore better balance without needing heels to obtain it. I can't see myself using five fingers or similar in the near future because I can easily see myself overstepping and losing the benefits I have noticed from barefoot gait. So I can't see the point of them for walking (running yes, walkiing no) as for me it defeats the purpose. Why not just go barefoot and save yourself 80 quid?
    A farmer mate of mine on the next hill has been barefoot for 3 years now and goes anywhere and everywhere and I see no evidence of any problem over ground type at all apart from snow and ice of course. In which case he wears moccasins. Other than that he doesn't NEED shoes.
    For slippiness btw, I use a mixture of beeswax and olive oil to keep my soles supple and take a little jar of it with me and when I start to slip and slide, I put some on and it improves grip no end.

  20. #20
    I've been wanting to have that 'Keen' shoes for a long time now but I am quite comfortable with my kigo shoes...

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