Posted tagged ‘Science’

Big barefoot questions…6 months in

July 20, 2010

I took a shot at this after three months of foray into the crazy world of barefoot running and it’s time for an update at the 6 month mark.

Cause it’s fun is what I said from the outset and I’m still there. That’s my bottom line. Some of my barefoot colleagues are about a barefoot lifestyle. Barefoot Jason just dumped his TV and started wearing kilts. For me it’s about running and being able to continue doing so as long as possible (although I admit being pleased with myself for not once putting on a shoe the last two weekends at the Cape…and without trying by the way; it just happened that way.)

Don’t your feet hurt?
Three months in, I had concluded that barefoot running, while delightful on smooth asphalt, did not lend itself to trail running and rougher roads. A clinic with Barefoot Ken Bob has lead me to reconsider to say the least. If you do it right you can run on most anything. Right means bending getting low and bending the knees more than I previously thought necessary when the road gets rough. He really amazed me and had a profound impact on the way I think about running.

Does it hurt? I may write a longer blog on this, but for now suffice it to say, I think you get so you perceive the sensation differently. You know that you are stepping on uneven surfaces but it doesn’t bother you so much. Here’s a secret: I find it (more…)


Podiatrists just have it backwards

April 25, 2010

Advice from doctors, typically goes something like this: Modern shoes are advisable, but if you don’t like them go for minimalist shoes, and if must run barefoot, do it on grass or trails. This view also comes out in their attempts to debunk the argument about our ancient ancestors running barefoot: They ran through fields and woods, not on modern roads. That’s just backwards. Bare feet work great on smooth hard surfaces; trails are tough.

I did my favorite 5.5 mile loop today for the first time since I started barefoot in January. The loop is a mix of woods, fields and roads. Trails through the woods are challenge the feet. Generally hard packed dirt is fine. Cover it with leaves and pine needles, even better. But with pine needles come pine cones. They aren’t too bad on the feet, but they exude sap which is (more…)

Meet-up with Dr. Dan Lieberman, ever-practical barefoot rockstar

March 21, 2010

Despite the difficulty of parking in Cambridge on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed yesterday’s clinic put on by the Metro Boston Barefoot Runners. Particularly interesting and useful was chatting with Dr. Daniel Lieberman whose recent study, Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners, represents some of the most extensive research in the field to date.

Photo courtesy of Ken Skier

After running 16 miles training for the London Marathon, Dan Lieberman joined about twenty of us yesterday afternoon first in the rec room of a church and then on the Cambridge Green. Dan is not an M.D., he’s an Evolutionary Biologist and runs the Skeletal Biology Lab at Harvard. One of his primary areas of research is “the biology and evolution of endurance running.” Thus, he’s thought a lot more about how people run and how feet work than most podiatrists. To say that his perspective is an informed one is an understatement.

I’ve not seen the lab (maybe sometime) but (more…)

Let’s get physical

March 12, 2010

There has been a preponderance of press in the wake of the Lieberman study, and most of the articles read the same. So, I was surprised to see an piece a few weeks ago that actually didn’t mention Lieberman! More importantly, however, it’s a very good survey of barefoot running from the perspective of physical therapists. In my experience, PTs are often more practical than docs and generally provide very useful, pragmatic advice. In my estimation, this article from is no exception. It’s mostly directed at those new to barefoot running, but even experienced runners can benefit from reminders and new perspectives now an then.

Nothing new under the…foot

February 11, 2010

Leave it to Barefoot Ted to come up with a 114 year old article on the glories of recreational running. Running as an Exercise by Dr. J. William Lloyd, published in 1895 in the Journal of Hygiene and Herald of Health is a great little read. And it’s unbelievably consistent with the way at least Barefoot Phil thinks about his sport.

“Running…one of the most perfect exercises which a man may take without apparatus or assistance from others,” says Lloyd (and I don’t think Vibram Five Fingers count as apparati). “Even in winter a short run, barefooted, through the loose snow may be made perfectly safe.”

The article in its stilted, archaic language, transported me back to a simpler, barefoot-kinda time.

For the serious student

February 1, 2010

If you were grabbed by Dr. Lieberman’s research on barefoot running and want to check out other basic research in the field, you can find a terrific list of resources at Barefoot Running University. This link provides several dozen pointers to peer reviewed research, mostly on the biomechanics of running with and without.

Must read research from Harvard

January 28, 2010

Numerous articles, radio and television pieces have been spawned by a study by Harvard’s Daniel Lieberman featured on the cover of the new journal Nature. Here’s the most comprehensive summary I’ve found in one place. It includes a nice You Tube piece on the good doctor as well as some research video showing impact measurements with a subject running with and without on a treadmill.