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Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Decision Day!

I'm not talking about 1/6th of the US Economy, and I'm not talking about walking guns.  I'm talking about those running shoes you are about to buy.

Like many, you are thinking of jumping on the minimalism band-wagon because you have been inundated with the coolness of shoes with toes and promises of never being injured again.  But how many of you spent $10 back in the day for a Pet Rock, or even more for a mail-order pair of x-ray specs from that comic book you liked?  Barefoot shoes are the Earth Shoes of the 10's!  Don't be suckered in by the hype.

I have a little experience with the function of, and injuries to the foot.  Like with anything else, some people can get by quite well with anything.  The vast majority of us can't however.  Where Abebe Bikila can get away with running a marathon barefoot (quite well may I add), most of us would be doing ourselves a big disfavor.

People who would love to sell you shoes with less (for more money!) will tell you that by shunning support, you'll strengthen your feet and leave injuries behind.  But my 25 years of experience and my rudimentary knowledge of Physics tell me otherwise.  You could become the History of the World's person with the strongest feet ever, and you could still come down with a severe case of Plantar Fascitis that will leave you unable to run.  Don't fall for the hype.  Actually, the hype on both ends of the spectrum of Running Shoes is just that, hype.

The best running shoes I have come across have always been the Nike's I ran with in the early 80's.  I could still run in several pairs of them I saved, even after all those miles and all these years.  There really wasn't much special about them except that all the manufacturing problems had been ironed out by then and the new-fangled materials that limit their life were not yet concocted.  That means they had a midsole of some shock absorbing material that didn't bottom out after 500 miles and an outsole that actually was more resistant to abrasion than today's materials.

As one of my more knowledgeable professors once told me, "A little heel height never hurt anyone."


  1. When I ran myself into a severe heel injury, the doc said only half jokingly, "If we were in Texas, I'd prescribe cowboy boots," then went on to describe the benefits on some lift.

  2. I've seen people from Texas who wear nothing but cowboy boots all the time. Never have seen Plantar Fascitis in any of them. Limited anecdotal evidence but certainly interesting.


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