Running in traditional running shoes is damaging to the human body. Human beings have only been running in large, wedge heeled, over cushioned shoes for about the past 40 years. It has been only in the past 40 or so years that we have seen a rise in both the number and the severity of the types of injures that are the constant plague of active runners today. Plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, Patellofemoral syndrome (aka; runners knee), these are all conditions that are way more common place than would stand to reason.

Depending on the sources one cites about 40-70% of active runners can expect to become injured over the course of one year of active running. This seems like an extraordinary number of people to be injured by such a simple and innate activity such as running. This injury rate is spread across the board as well; marathoners aren’t more prone to injury than individuals who run 10k’s or 5k’s. It seems as though anyone who has a regular schedule of running will be guaranteed to at some point suffer from one of a multitude of common runner injuries. This seems odd because there is very little in the way of record of these injuries being so common in the past. So it seems that the frequency of injury is a modern phenomenon. Which may lead some individuals to point out that the “jogging trend” was started by Bill Bowerman with the publication of his 1966 book “Jogging.” The injury rates we see today are a result of this increase in the number of people taking up recreational running.

This seems a solid premise till one notices that there is a long history of casual running across cultures of the world, and the curious fact that Bill was also one of the cofounders of Nike, and that the increase in injuries sustained by this new crowd of “joggers” runs a pretty close race with the sales of Nike shoes.

The concept of adding a cushioned heel to the shoe was that the runner would have something softer to land on and that it would cause his body to lean forward and add some minor “propulsion” to the stride of the runner based on the incline of the heel. All these assumptions were based on what might be charitably described as “hunches.” The result of these hunches and decades of advertising (though propaganda is a more apt term in my opinion) the “common wisdom” of the modern day is that the human body is not well suited to running for any significant distance, and that doing so is to incur great injury. The “solution” to this “problem” has been the liberal application of cushioning to shoes, along with air pockets, and a vast array multicolored dials and knobs that I will never understand (apologies to Hunter).

However, as time has marched on the amount of technology we pump into these shoes increases, the one thing that is supposed to happen never seems to. The injury rates have not gone down at all. We have been led astray by the shoe companies for so long that the idea of massive cushioning seems to be a-priori knowledge almost. It’s only been in within the last decade that people have truly started to question the reasoning behind this shoe design. If the claim that running hurts people is true, and the claim that running with these shoes will reduce the risk of injury, and there is a new shoe design every 6 months that purports to have “better” technology, why has the injury rate stayed the same?

Let us assume then the claim humans are poorly built for running (which is a claim that is getting quite a bit of doubt cast on it (Lieberman, Daniel. et all).) If that is true then in groups of people who run without the “aid” of modern running shoes we should see a significant spike in the number of injuries sustained. What we see is the exact opposite. Among the Tara Humara Indians of northern Mexico, a people known for their extreme running predilection, there are almost no cases of all the common ailments suffered by runners who use modern running shoes. The same holds for various groups of runners in Africa. So then with that information in mind we move to a study (Lieberman, Daniel. et all) that shows that evolutionarily speaking humans are evolved to be incredibly capable distance runners. Persistence hunting is a method were the prey is literally run to death by the hunter. This method relies on the fact that most mammals perspire through their mouth (panting) and are not particularly efficient at dissipating heat. Humans are able to perspire over our entire bodies(sweating), and are capable of doing it while running and breathing in the manner required by that activity level. Something most animals are not capable of. While not nearly as fast as quadrapedalism, bipedalism is bio mechanically significantly more efficient in terms of the energy use required for distance covered. Case in point once the distances become great enough we can run down almost any animal on earth. There is a Man vs. Horse race in Wales where humans on foot have beaten horses in a 22 mile race, there are video’s of African hunters running down kudu, literally chasing the animal until it falls over from exhaustion, then walking up and thrusting a spear in the animal while it gasps for air. There is ample evidence to suggest that humans are evolved to run great distances, those that claim that humans are not well suited are spreading lies so as to enforce the perceived need for specialized products for running. Science is starting to support the theories that have been gaining momentum over the past few years (Kerrigan DC, et all). The backlash of course is building momentum and trying to discredit the idea of the health benefits of barefoot running. What’s strange is there is no research to support a lot of the claims made by the opposing camp (Richards, Craig E. Parker, Magin. Robin, Callister.) What we hear is mostly fear mongering from those individuals who stand to lose money over the loss of shoe sales, or from the medical side of the equation, loss of sales in custom orthotics (a very large business.) As of yet there has yet to be any reasoned response to the evidence coming out of various studies and the growing number of personal anecdotes from runners who have suffered for years in traditional shoes but are now running pain free in minimalist or no shoes at all.

The fact that there is no research to back up claims, no logical reason to support the claims, and no history of success to back up the claims, implies that the claim made by the major shoe manufacturers are fallacious at best and purposely harmful at worst. While I am not inclined to think that the orthopedic shoe insert business is in collusion with the major shoe manufacturers in creating a death spiral of injury causing shoes, orthotics to ease the pain of injury, and furthered injury as a result of the individual not actually receiving any actual treatment for the injury. It certainly seems like that is the way things have turned out. I think it’s important for people to stop trusting people whose only concern is the monetary health of their company. It doesn’t pay any of these shoe companys to bother to pay attention to what is or is not healthy. They will respond only to market pressures that affect their sales. The change will come from people finally realizing that they have been lied to for so long and demanding shoes that won’t injure them while running. As with so many ills, both in our personal lives and in terms of a the greater context of our society, it is the hoi polloi who will effect change, that is assuming they can get up off their butts and chase after it.

Works cited:

Richards, Craig E. Parker, J, Magin. Robin, Callister. Is your Prescription of Distance Running Shoes Evidence Based? British journal of sports medicine April 18 2008

Hirschmüller A, Baur H, Müller S, Helwig P, Dickhuth HH, Mayer F. Clinical Effectiveness of Customised Sport Shoe Orthoses for Overuse Injuries in Runners- a Randomized Controlled Study. British journal of sports medicine Nov, 1, 2009

Kerrigan DC, Franz JR, Keenan GS, Dicharry J, Della Croce U, Wilder RP. The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques. PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function , and Rehabilitation. Dec, 2009

S.Robbins, E.Waked. Balance and Vertical Impact in Sports: Role of Shoe Sole Materials*1 Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Volume 78, Issue 5, Pages 463-467

Lieberman, Daniel. Dennis, M. Bramble. David ,A. Raichlen. John, J. Shea. The First Humans-Origin and Evolution of the Genus Homo. Chapter 8; Brains Brawns and the Evolution of Human Endurance Running Capabilities.

I’ll add this addendum since so many of you missed the point. No where in this wu do I explicitly tell people to take off their shoes and go running barefoot. I’ve simply presented a case for the use of minimalist / barefoot running. If you look to the wu I have Specifically about barefoot running you will see that my conclusion in that paper is that form is more important than shoes, with the caveat that shoes with large heels can, and very often do, make running with proper form very difficult. Once again a presentation of information not a mandate of action. No where do I claim that switching to minimalist / barefoot will instantly cure one of all that ails them. You seem to be of the opinion that people wear shoes all their life, so “oh well just suck it up and keep wearing them you're already obese and stuck in your ways.” I feel that that is irresponsible, and that people can change their ways. This wu is an attempt to simply make that information available to people.

My citation of the Lieberman paper was not to imply that the study was purposefully challenging “conventional wisdom” but that this study points out the fact that humans are good at distance running. Your misreading of my intent I can only attribute to an honest mistake.

However I feel you are in error when you say that I my thesis statement is not backed up by science. I have given multiple citations that support my position all of which are scientific articles. Your ad-hominem attacks by equating what I feel to be a well supported argument for something, into nothing more than evangelical proselytizing, are both out of line, and unfounded. Your entire refutation of my argument amounts to your opinion. Which you are entitled to, but don't accuse me of bad science in general terms that don't address anything specific.

What I don't understand is that OJ and I seem to believe some of the same things, yet there is a disconnect for some reason. He states that heel striking can be damaging. I also believe this to be the case. I believe that shoes inherently affect ones ability to run in a natural manner evidence supports this. I state in my barefoot running wu that one can maintain proper form in traditional running shoes, and thus help oneself to avoid injury. But I say that with the caveat that traditional running shoes make this MUCH harder to do. Traditional running shoes almost enforce heel striking, which we both seem to agree can cause injury. The point of this wu was to discuss the fact that shoe companies have made an effort to enforce the idea that heeled shoes are necessary, when they are in fact, not necessary. You and I agree that heel striking can cause injury, evidence supports me when I say that heeled shoes affect gait, you agree with this as well. I then draw the conclusion which you vehemently disagree with that running in traditional shoes can cause injury do to the effect on running style that their design causes. All the information is there, and you and I seem to agree on most of it, but for some reason we cannot come to terms it would seem.

New research supports my assertions everyday:

Shoe companies are not charitable institutions. They are for profit companies with bills to pay and if they are a publicly traded company such as Nike or Reebok they have shareholders to satisfy. Even if you are not intimately acquainted with the Bible you may be familiar with the Pontius Pilate quote "What is truth?" that appears in John 18:38. Books have been written about truth, what it is, what it is not, whether it is absolute or relative and what constitutes a lie.

So what are shoe companies saying and, more importantly how can you as a consumer protect yourself? According to one statistic there are more lawyers in Seattle than in the entire country of Japan. Manufacturing companies are careful about what claims they make about their products because a lawsuit costs them time, money and their reputation which can have a detrimental effect on future sales.

The next time you go to the gym sit and watch the people circling the track. At the YMCA I frequent there is a decent mix of people in various stages of physical fitness. You can find morbidly obese people, people that I would call anorexic and some in between types who are neither fat nor thin. Considering that all of us have been using our bodies since birth it is a shame that so few people understand their bodies and use them correctly.

Good shoes will protect your feet, support them and provide adornment. Smart shoppers will recognize that if you care for an item properly it will perform better, malfunction less frequently and cost less to repair. While there are exceptions to every rule generally speaking the cars that are in for regular maintenance and have good tires that are rotated routinely are less likely to break down than cars whose owners drive them past the recommended limits for oil changes and tire rotations.

Just as tires on a car wear down, tread on shoes wears down. If you put the wrong sized tire on your vehicle it will perform less optimally than tires that fit correctly. Hopefully you're thinking that almost no one puts the wrong sized tires on their car. Tires are standardized, it is relatively easy to determine which ones fit your car and which ones will be either too large or not quite big enough.

Shoes, while serving some of the same functions as tires are not so easy to size correctly. Various studies have tried to determine how many people are wearing the wrong size shoes. Humans are irregular, most of us have a foot that is slightly wider or shorter than the other. People have leg length discrepancies, one foot may have a bunion the other lacks, my point is sizing feet is not difficult, getting people into shoes that are the right size is a challenge trained professionals face daily.

Experts can tell when shoes do not fit. Most of the people who work at shoe stores are sales people. Not podiatrists, not pedorthists, not certified fitters, they are sales people. They are trained to sell the maximum amount of products to the maximum amount of people. Pushing products is how they are compensated and you can make a decent living if you are friendly, personable and able to refrain from physically harming the people attached to the feet you want to help.

Even when you know what you are talking about you will have the bargain shoppers who buy the wrong shoes because they are cheaper than the shoes they need. You will run into the fitness expert that thinks they know more than you because they work out and the people who would rather have something cute that they think looks good than a pair of shoes that meets the support needs of their feet.

Caveat emptor is hardly a new concept. Shoe companies are trying to sell you shoes just as car manufacturers are trying to sell cars and cosmetic companies are trying to sell the idea that their overpriced products are something people actually need. Are companies like Revlon and Loreal lying to you when they airbrush photos of their models? Are shoe companies telling the truth about their shoes that claim to tone and firm and if their claims are false, are you as a consumer smart enough to recognize a sales pitch for what it is and walk away from a clever marketing scheme?

The company I work for has a guaranteed return policy. If you buy any of our products you can send them back at any time for any reason within six months for full credit. If you wear a pair of our sandals for five and a half months, ship them back to us and we receive them before six months have passed we will issue a credit for the full purchase price regardless of the reason you have returned our merchandise.

As a consumer you need to educate yourself. You need to know your body and you need to understand and listen to it. People have a tendency to overthink shoes. Today my daughter tried on three pairs of sandals. The first pair she wanted so she told me they felt great. The second and third pairs actually fit but she did not like the color scheme on the second pair so she told me that they felt terrible.

The third pair fit and I didn't have to ask her anything because she ran off with them on her feet. She wanted to wear her shoes out of the store, she did not want to take them off when it was time to pay for them and if your shoes do not immediately feel good they probably are not the shoes for you. The best shoe fitter, the podiatrist with the most education and the pedorthist with years of experience are all humans. They are going to make mistakes however hopefully no one is going to lie to you.

Shoe companies employ sales people to sell their shoes. If you are unwilling to listen to a professional who measures your feet, walk out of that shoe store because a professional depends on your feedback and if you don't trust them to measure your foot they can't trust you to give them accurate feedback on what a shoe feels like beneath your foot.

People enter stores believing that they will be ripped off. They talk on their cell phones, disparage your products and complain about all sorts of things while you're working and they are shopping. Employees still owe them good service and I've been on all three sides of the shoe sales triangle. Currently I work for a manufacturer, previously I was employed at a retail shoe store and I've been purchasing shoes since I was a teenager.

Sometimes it is the sales person or fitter who is to blame for a poor fit. People who are busy, who lack the knowledge, expertise, and training necessary to identify a good fit are not all evil and intent on ruining your feet. Often times people are their own worst enemies because instead of shopping for shoes from the inside out they shop from the outside in which is understandable yet regrettable.

The human body is a very complex machine. The majority of people I see every day have not mastered the deceptively complicated art of walking. Their shoes are cheap, insignificant, poorly made and of inferior design. Good footwear is out there however many people do not value their bodies or understand that you put a lot of miles on your feet and just like lower quality tires will get you from point A to point B your shocks and struts may suffer as a result.

Now I realize I haven't touched running shoes, specialty shoes or custom orthotics that fit into shoes but you have to crawl before you can walk and if you can't get people into the right size shoes there is no point in wasting your time or theirs identifying what their support needs are or what type of running shoe if any would benefit them.

If you went behind the scenes in a restaurant you would find out what people really do to your food. I have witnessed shoe store employees lying to their customers and stretching the truth. Companies that manufacture shoes can be accused of false advertizing, some of them have lied to the general public however my guess is you'll have a hard time proving that in a court of law even if their shoes severely injure you.

Good shoes feel good. So few people know what a properly fitted shoe feels like that a pair which offers a correct level of support and a good fit feels wrong to them. They think they are being lied to when you explain how much space should be beyond their longest toe. They don't believe scans of their feet and doubt their own bodies when you can see their shoulders straightening and their gait returning to normal.

There are few guarantees in life. Shoes are typically not guaranteed and it is too bad that people do not take the time to educate themselves on what type of foot they have and what type of shoe and support would work best for their foot. You can be mad that you are paying too much for shoes you buy off the shelf, you can be disgusted at what passes for footwear in chains and franchises or you can start educating yourself so you know when someone is lying and someone else is telling you the truth because they know that an educated customer will come back again and refer people to you.

Feet can be divided up into three categories, either you have a high, a low or a medium arch. Your foot can be consistently measured and if you go to two places and get two different measurements know that your foot size can change throughout the day and can be up to a size larger after athletic activities.

Many of the people I know have a closet full of shoes that fail to meet their footwear needs. Feet are the foundation of your body. Roughly twenty-five percent of your bones lie beneath your ankle, almost every joint you have depends on proper foot alignment and there are more than three hundred different diagnoses that a healthcare professional can make based on an assessment of your feet.

Expecting shoe companies to have more integrity than other manufacturing companies is idealistic. It would be nice if you could believe everyone you spoke with however since they are your feet you are charged with their care, maintenance and health. Hopefully this has shed a little light on what it is like to be inside the shoe profession. I'm not here to bash any brands nor will I recommend any unless I can see the foot I'm working with which is what people should be doing when recommending footwear.

Liars can figure and figures can lie. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is however shoes can never feel too good. They should never hurt, shoes should not give you blisters and you should understand what the shoe was designed to do before you purchase a pair of shoes that you think will do something the manufacturer never intended.

No one brand of shoes is going to work for every person so be wary about recommending footwear to your friends and family based on your personal experience. Recognize that companies are only as good as the people running them, you as an end user are ultimately responsible for your footwear situation.

If you believe that a company is lying to you take it up with them and see what their response is. Blanket statements are not as effective as specific ones. Part of my job entails responding to emails the company I work for receives so I've seen claims that our footwear is poorly made, doesn't last, injured someone or was in some way defective.

Good shoe companies will always take back defective merchandise. Producing a product that needs approval from the Federal government requires you to have outside certification that your product does what it says it is going to at a minimum. There are provisions in place for people who were deceived, misinformed and hotlines to report abuses of companies so the government can follow up on these claims.

Not every company will fully disclose the truth about their products. Drug companies have sold products that killed people. Surgeons have operated on the wrong body parts, you have probably made a mistake or two in your lifetime. Accusing someone of lying is serious. Concerns that involve product safety should be taken to the corporation responsible for the inaccurate claims so future injuries can be prevented.

I am sitting here at this very moment wearing a pair of Nike Free 3.0 shoes that I purchased somewhere around 2005. These shoes are designed to mimic barefoot running as best as possible in a traditional shoe. The sole is very flexible, the frame offers almost no structural support, and overall the shoe is extremely light. They are the most comfortable shoes I own. When I coach baseball, I prefer either to wear my Nike Frees or go barefoot altogether. I don't run for exercise, as the idea of it seems phenomenally boring to me, but if I did I would probably go barefoot.

And I would never, ever recommend barefoot running to anyone else. Why? Well, here's the summary of the Daniel Lieberman study that futilelord cited.

"Our research asked how and why humans can and did run comfortably without modern running shoes. We tested and confirmed what many people knew already: that most experienced, habitually barefoot runners tend to avoid landing on the heel and instead land with a forefoot or midfoot strike. The bulk of our published research explores the collisional mechanics of different kinds of foot strikes. We show that most forefoot and some midfoot strikes (shod or barefoot) do not generate the sudden, large impact transients that occur when you heel strike (shod or barefoot). Consequently, runners who forefoot or midfoot strike do not need shoes with elevated cushioned heels to cope with these sudden, high transient forces that occur when you land on the ground. Therefore, barefoot and minimally shod people can run easily on the hardest surfaces in the world without discomfort from landing. If impact transient forces contribute to some forms of injury, then this style of running (shod or barefoot) might have some benefits, but that hypothesis remains to be tested." - Daniel Lieberman, et. al.

This statement is a lot different than what futilelord is claiming. First off, they were not challenging the "conventional wisdom" that humans were poorly suited for running. Anyone who has done any work on anatomy and physiology knows that the humans are well-suited for that work. The study was trying to figure out "how and why" humans have historically been able to run long distance without running shoes. What Lieberman and friends discovered was that the way runners land determines the amount of impact force, independent of whether or not the runner was wearing a shoe. I will restate that again for emphasis: the study states that it does not matter whether you run barefoot or shod, so long as you run in a particular way. The study also makes no connection between impact force and injuries, suggesting only that that hypothesis needs to be tested (though one would expect this to logically be the case). Note also a key phrase in the summary: "experienced, habitually barefoot". In citing evolutionary biology, futilelord has in effect ignored (for whatever reason) the anthropological arguments that Lieberman included.

Simply put, though we may be evolutionarily well-designed for barefoot running, we are anthropologically conditioned against it. Part of this is living in a modern, technological society, one in which sedentary lifestyles are the norm, food is plentiful and cheap, and obesity is an epidemic. There are literally millions of people in the United States alone who, in their current state of physical fitness, should not even attempt running, and there are relatively healthy people who run five miles every morning and then go slouch in a chair for eight hours with arms extended haphazardly over a keyboard and mouse. This, and not the shoes that they wear, is what causes running injuries. Everything that we do with our bodies contributes to our (poor) biomechanics, including things as small as leaning closer to a computer monitor to see better, or bending over to pick something up instead of bending at the knees. Ergonomic habits, good or bad, become ingrained in muscle memory and the skeletal system.

This includes wearing shoes. Shoes came about long before Nike and Reebok, long before capitalism. Shoes protect our feet from the elements - jagged rocks, cold snow, wet rain, thorny bushes. This is why they were originally invented, not to cushion our heels and certainly not to make money. Shoes also, perhaps imperceptibly to some, change the way that we move. Our footfall changes from one where we strike the front of the foot first to one where we strike heel first. That's if a change occurs at all - in modern civilization, shoes are part of the wardrobe from infancy, so our footfall in most cases is dictated by our footwear even as we learn to walk. Getting rid of the shoe doesn't immediately and permanently change it back, any more than quitting smoking is going to immediately result in clean lungs and an apartment that doesn't stink.

That's where the folly lies. It's not that barefoot running is better or worse than shod running. It's that shod running is a lot better for people who need heel cushioning, even if that need was caused by the fact that they wear shoes. If they want to switch to barefoot running, they should probably talk to a personal trainer, physical therapist, kinesiologist, or someone who has a clue about what effects the switch is going to have. The problem, as best as I can tell, is that the barefoot running community is a little bit like the vegan community in terms of the religious adherence to doctrine. If someone tries out veganism and goes back to eating meat because they suffer from a B-12 deficiency, the community immediately recoils into a sort of self-protecting attack mode, explaining all of the things that the apostate did wrong, because it's simply not possible that a non-vegan diet is better for some people. The same arises with barefoot running. Plantar fasciitis is overwhelmingly the most common barefoot running injury. It's generally caused by exerting too much force on the heel, which is (surprise) how a lot of runners who have worn shoes all of their life happen to run. When they return to shoes, the barefoot running community immediately rushes to blame the injured, again because it's simply not possible that barefoot running isn't for everyone.

That's really the only purpose for this rebuttal. I honestly couldn't care less if shoe companies are lying to me, although I don't particularly think that they are, at least not any more than any other company lies to me through its advertising. The point I'm trying to make is that if barefoot running works for you, that's awesome. And if you want to tell everyone else how great it is, and what the purported benefits are, and suggest that they try it, that's awesome too. But it's irresponsible to make a thesis statement that something is "damaging the human body" when there is no factual basis for that claim, and it's irresponsible to misrepresent a scientific study in an attempt to support that evangelical belief, and it's even more irresponsible to suggest without evidence that a large segment of society is actively working to damage the human body through propaganda. Changing the way we run, not what's on our shoes, is what's going to protect our body the best.

Since there's been an addendum added since I posted this node, and since it confronts me directly, with a link to the chatterbox archive, I will respond in kind. If you are uninterested in the back-and-forth bantering of two people on the Internet, feel free to skip this section.

From the addendum: I'll add this addendum since so many of you missed the point. No where in this wu do I explicitly tell people to take off their shoes and go running barefoot.

If so many people missed the point, I would argue that the point was not clearly stated. But futilelord is correct - nowhere in the writeup does he explicitly tell people to take off their shoes and go running. However, if one were to start a writeup with the sentence "CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ARE POISONOUS," one could infer, without having the need for it to be explicitly stated, that the author was telling us to stop eating chocolate chip cookies. So let's not play the I-never-said-that game.

From the addendum: If you look to the wu I have Specifically about barefoot running you will see that my conclusion in that paper is that form is more important than shoes, with the caveat that shoes with large heels can, and very often do, make running with proper form very difficult.

Futilelord is again correct here. In his barefoot running writeup, he discusses that the shoe design itself may change the way a runner runs. You'll notice a few things, however, if you read the above writeups. First, he makes no mention of this previous essay, nor does he even provide a link to the barefoot running node. Second, I said the same thing in my own writeup, but expanded the scope of what causes a change in gait - it's all shoes, not just running shoes. Finally, the point expressed in that essay is not expressed in this one, and in fact, just the opposite is - running shoes damage the human body.

From the addendum: You seem to be of the opinion that people wear shoes all their life, so "oh well just suck it up and keep wearing them you're already obese and stuck in your ways." I feel that that is irresponsible, and that people can change their ways.

It may seem that way from what I wrote, but my point wasn't to say that out-of-shape people shouldn't exercise, because they should, after talking with a doctor and hiring a personal trainer and establishing a fitness plan. Few people who start exercising do any of this. Futilelord's essay infers that running shoes are what causes injuries. I don't believe that to be the case, so I was presenting another option - that people who are out of shape or fat are probably prone to injury because they aren't suited for running. Neither futilelord nor I have substantial evidence to back our claims up.

From the addendum: My citation of the Lieberman paper was not to imply that the study was purposefully challenging "conventional wisdom" but that this study points out the fact that humans are good at distance running. Your misreading of my intent I can only attribute to an honest mistake.

Actually, my reading of the Lieberman paper was that futilelord was constructing and tearing down a straw man, which is why I pointed out that anyone with experience in anatomy and physiology could tell you this. The human foot is the most complex part of the skeletal system, and the foot has far more nerve endings than most other parts of the body. It's obvious that the foot was designed for running. Using the "humans aren't designed for running" argument just seems so blatantly stupid that I find it hard to believe it's an argument that anyone has actually used to support the need for running shoes. If that's not the case, I apologize.

From the addendum: However I feel you are in error when you say that I my thesis statement is not backed up by science. I have given multiple citations that support my position all of which are scientific articles. Your ad-hominem attacks by equating what I feel to be a well supported argument for something, into nothing more than evangelical proselytizing, are both out of line, and unfounded. Your entire refutation of my argument amounts to your opinion. Which you are entitled to, but don't accuse me of bad science in general terms that don't address anything specific.

OK, let's examine futilelord's citations and let's get specific.

Richards, et. al. - This was not a scientific study. It was a database search to find scientific studies that were done to prove that running shoes reduce injury. The search came up empty. Lack of proof for one position does not equate to proof of the opposite position.
Hirschmüller, et. al. - This was a study of 51 subjects to determine the effectiveness of orthotics. The study showed that subjects who received orthotics reported better comfort than those who did not. The study conclusion was that custom-made shoes are "an effective conservative strategy for chronic running injuries". None of the subjects in this study ran barefoot, nor was any attempt made to assess whether or not running with running shoes caused damage to the human body.
Kerrigan, et. al. - This was a study of 58 subjects to determine the difference in joint torque when running barefoot vs. running shod. The study showed a marked increase in joint torque while running shod. But the study also made certain to point out in its conclusions that joint torque is not equivalent to joint force, and that their method of analysis (3-dimensional gait analysis) has limitations (I won't go into them here, but they're readily available on the Internet). This is as close as any of the five citations comes to linking running shoes with damage to the human body.
Robbins, et. al. - This was a study of 12 subjects to determine stability and vertical impact when landing on different types of surfaces. There was no running involved, nor did any of the subjects perform any actions while wearing shoes - all of the exercises were performed barefoot. The study determined that vertical impact could be decreased and stability increased by making the landing surface (both the shoe and the surface it lands on) more rigid.
Lieberman, et. al - This study has already been discussed. The conclusion was that the method of running, rather that the presence or absence of the shoe, dictated the impact force.

So, five citations were provided, and not a single one of them tells us that running with running shoes is damaging to the human body. What this says to me, which I already know from external research on the topic, is that there is very little scientific evidence to support futilelord's thesis statement. Taking the available data and concluding that running with running shoes is damaging to the body may result in the correct conclusion, but it's bad science (his words, not mine). It's not even an implication that correlation implies causality. It's the implication that a number of small studies that are only tangentially related implies causality. Yet three of futilelord's last five write-ups are about barefoot running, so there's a certain fervor to what he's writing about. So it may sound like an ad hominem attack to him to say that it's an evangelical belief, but I honestly believe it's a valid criticism. Find me a long-term, sizeable, peer-reviewed cohort study that shows a statistically significant difference in injury rate between running barefoot and running shod, and I'll be more than happy to recant my statement.

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