MORE SPEED OR MORE FOOT HEALTH? – IT’S TIME TO CHOOSE
You can't have missed them: bright neon, with super high stacks and pointed heels - it's the new souped-up shoe from you know who; Yep, check off.
Their construction is a combination of foam, fluid filled chambers and a 'secret weapon' which is about giving runners an improved 'running economy' by 4% or so.
They are marketed as helping runners run faster, and elite athletes have worn them to break records. But in the arms race of foot races, some call this performance-enhancing 'technique for doping'.
Athletics recently announced a ban on stack heights above 40mm and more than one embedded plate, and stipulated that shoes worn by elite athletes in competition must have been available for purchase on the open market for four months.
This means that shoes worn by Brigid Kosgei in her new 'unbeatable' women's world record at the Chicago Marathon still count, but it is uncertain whether the prototype shoes worn by Eliud Kipchoge in his first sub-2-hour marathon time in October 2019 would have been legal .
Yannis Pitsilidis, a sports professor at the University of Brighton, recently said that the effect of these shoes is "greater than some banned drugs".
Athletics' governing body has also announced a moratorium on more of this performance-enhancing technology, reminiscent of what happened to the full-body suits that helped swimmers in the Beijing Olympics break world records, only to be banned shortly afterwards (although many of the world records achieved in them still stand one). In the end, the controversy, while arguably damaging to the athletes involved, may not hurt the coffers of the creators of the new technology.
So what does all this have to do with Vivobarefoot, a family-owned company that prides itself on making as little shoe as possible for you and your children?
We think those considering shelling out $250 for a shoe that might only last a few races (reports suggest its effects don't last much beyond 100 miles) might also consider their long-term foot health.
A runner's performance is built on a foundation of health—including the health of the foot, which is designed to stretch and retract when allowed to move naturally.1 Much of the energy used to make a runner move faster comes from these natural energy stores - and release mechanisms.2 You could say that our foot acts as the – free – carbon fiber plate and foam under our legs.
At Vivobarefoot, we believe that millions of years of natural R&D have already packed the muscles and tendons of your feet with all the energy absorption you need.
A growing body of evidence also shows that as cushioning in a shoe increases, so does the proportion of runners who alter running mechanics3,4 in ways associated with injury.5-7
It is therefore possible for runners to wear highly shock-absorbing shoes when landing on poorly conditioned feet. A lifetime of shock-absorbing, cushioned shoes can be a contributing factor to the ruined feet that then send people to expensive orthopedic 'solutions'.
Children who grow up barefoot have been shown to have wider, stronger feet than those who grow up in regular shoes.8,9 (Incidentally, as do many of the outstanding Kenyan and Ethiopian runners who dominate their sport). And foot muscle size and strength can be restored when adults return to walking in minimalist shoes.10
In an era when so many are becoming increasingly disconnected from the planet, our movements and each other, getting in touch with the ground is no small thing.
We're on a journey to make as many small shoes as possible because we believe the evidence shows that smaller shoes are better for you and the planet; our barely-there shoes let your feet be what they were meant to be - be feet!
Our philosophy may not make us insanely rich but that's the way we want it. We are happy that so many more choose to join us.
Robbins SE, Hanna AM. Prevention of running-related injuries via barefoot adaptations. With Sci Sports Exerc. 1987;19(2):148-156.
Lieberman D. The story of the human body: development, health and disease. Vintage; 2014.
Hollander K, Argubi-Wollesen A, Reer R, Zech A. Comparison of minimalist shoe strategies to simulate barefoot running: a randomized crossover study.PLoS One. 2015;10(5):e0125880.
Hollander K, Riebe D, Campe S, Braumann KM, Zech A. Effects of running shoes on treadmill biomechanics in prepubescent children. Gait posture. 2014;40(3):381-385.
Daoud AI, Geissler GJ, Wang F, Saretsky J, Daoud YA, Lieberman DE. Foot impairment and injury rates in endurance runners: a retrospective study. With Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(7):1325-1334.
Pohl MB, Hamill J, Davis IS. Biomechanical and anatomical factors associated with a history of heel spur in female runners. Clin J Sports Med. 2009;19(5):372-376.
Ruder M, Jamison ST, Tenforde A, Mulloy F, Davis IS. Relationship between foot landing patterns and landing impact during a marathon. M