Have you ever noticed that running magazines never publish a negative shoe review? It doesn’t take an MBA to figure out why. Ad revenue has to come from somewhere and running has to be the sport that, theoretically, requires the least amount of equipment.
A year of suffering from a painful plantar fasciitis, which I blame, in part, on shoes gives me the right to rant. Allow me to note that:
- Shoe designs come not out of any kind of bio-mechanical research but simply out of the derriere of the handful of companies that make these horrid objects. Note what Daniel Lieberman of the Skeletal Biology Lab at Harvard has said, that there is simply not enough evidence to make any conclusions on how people should run or whether running shoes are a good idea or not. Remember that cushioned running shoes did not exist until the early 1970s.
- They cost an obscene amount of money, little of which goes to the sweatshop workers who make them.
- They are FREAKING UGLY. Who decided that all the principles of color theory should be thrown out the window when designing a running shoe? They look like the result of a dog eating pool toys and barfing them up.
Let me review my own sad running history. I ran in shoes for many years. Then I got a case of Plantar fasciitis. I cured that with barefoot running but, several years later, injured my knees due to (I think) weakness in my hip muscles. I decided to switch back to fencing for my cardio. This went well until I got a new pair of fencing shoes. Old style fencing shoes were very minimal. Then the shoe manufactures decided we needed the same cushy heels you find on running shoes. My bad PF came some months into a new pair of fencing shoes.
After almost a year of work at the gym and many trips to my doctor, I’m close to beating my bad case of PF. My running will, most likely, be barefoot. If I’m able to return to fencing I’ll follow Daniel Lieberman’s minimal footwear advice:
- The thickness of the cushioning in the rearfoot and forefoot should be about the same, and not too thick.
- You should be able to easily twist the shoe along the long axis and bend the shoe at the midfoot.
- There should not be a stiff arch support that prevents the natural movement of the arch of the foot.
And here’s a thought for an enterprising publisher: how about a running magazine modeled after Lucky Peach? In other words, a running magazine with integrity made up of honest reviews, research-based injury advice and thoughtful essays.
An interesting article on Plantar fasciitis (thanks to Kathy Turk for the link)
The Skeletal Biology Lab at Harvard
Barefoot Ken Bob’s website (note his free running clinics in Southern California–I went to one and it was great).