When communicating, one of the worst things to do is to send mixed messages. Mixed messages are not only confusing but they are frustrating. The receiver of the messages is left not knowing what to do. Eventually this leads to a lack of trust.
There are many reasons that people do not adopt a barefoot/minimal lifestyle. I won’t go into all the reasons but one of the major reasons, I believe, is that they are outright confused. They are receiving mixed messages about whether or not our bodies need to have supportive shoes. People may be getting messages from friends or family who have tried barefoot running, from online forums, and most of all they are getting mixed messages from the medical world.
While science and medicine has greatly increased the value of living in our modern world and I am very grateful for the miracle of modern medicine, we shouldn’t forget that the experts in medicine are still learning. The scientific method has obviously been a huge factor in learning truths about our world. We live in a very complex world and sometimes there are just too many factors involved in a given subject to prove any point using the scientific method. Nutrition is my primary example. It seems that every months I see news headlines about some new study that shows that (insert food type here) is bad for you and you shouldn’t be eating it. The next thing I know, some other study is showing that that same food is healthy and a necessary part of our diet. It seems that every study about nutrition comes up with conflicting results. As a result people are either confused and lose trust in the experts or they change diets with every new whim and doctrine of nutrition. Personally, I have become confused and I just eat what feels right for me. I like to do my research and after I have learned as much as I can, I go with my gut instinct. It’s too difficult to keep up with every new scientific fact about nutrition. I don’t want to feel like a rag doll being tossed back and forth.
I am afraid that the study of barefooting is becoming the same way. People can read studies like those published by Daniel Lieberman and others that show the benefits of going barefoot. On the other hand there are experts who oppose anything barefoot and say that we need support under our feet. The truth is that it is going to be difficult for science to study the effects of going barefoot. There are so many factors that are individual specific. For example the success of a barefoot runner greatly depends on the transition from running in shoes to running without them. Form is another key factor. Can a good transition be measured? It may take longer for some people who have weaker feet or have had foot problems in the past. Some people may think that because they go barefoot sometimes they can jump right into barefoot running. I had been hiking in my Unshoes prototypes for nearly a year before I decided to start running. I was surprised at how much transition time I needed.
I doubt that science will ever come to a solid conclusion about the barefoot “movement”. If there are any readers who are on the fence about trying out minimal footwear but are waiting for doctors to say yea or nay… you might be sitting on that fence for a long time unless you decide to take the plunge and experiment for yourself.
My purpose for this post is to encourage people to do as much research as they can. Learn about your feet and what their purpose is. I encourage everyone to listen to what their body says. This is possibly the most important thing to do when taking off your shoes. Then, when you have done your research and put some real thought into the subject. Make your own decision and take it slowly. Don’t be afraid… just have fun.