I’ve noticed some recent articles in mainstream media talking about how barefoot and minimalist running was just a passing fad and is now dead. All these articles have a very “I told you so” attitude and they love to compare minimalist shoes to those rocker soled toning shoes that came and went in a flash. These claims are based on minimalist shoe sales. In fact they are based mostly on the sales of shoe companies like Nike which didn’t make minimalist shoes until they realized they could ride the wave and make money. Their sales of minimalist models have dropped dramatically and they will now move on. They also cite injuries that runners have sustained after switching from traditional running shoes.
Personally, I’m not surprised. There was so much hype about injury reduction that people thought it was a magic bullet. The majority of people that jumped on the “trend” most likely did not do the necessary research to transition. They probably didn’t reduce miles or do any sort of foot strengthening exercises along the way. If they did, it was probably the bare minimum. Another factor is that we tend to live a very sedentary lifestyle 95% of the time and then go out for an intense run to “make up for it”. I have been guilty of that line of thinking. It is a recipe for disaster. I know from experience!
What the media fails to acknowledge is that switching to minimalist footwear is a lifestyle change. Not a running change. It is something that you commit to. It is a slow process. It takes more than a few days, weeks, months, or even years. It is all about slowly re-programming our bodies how to function as they were designed. It includes things like being more active, sitting less, and mindfully re-activating the parts of our bodies that have atrophied over the years. Actually, we’ve noticed that a large number of our customers have mentioned that they don’t run. There are a huge number of people out there using minimalist shoes that are not noticed by the media because they don’t label themselves as runners.
It is easy to gather data about injuries but it is impossible to know how many injuries were avoided. They give us facts about sales and injuries but facts are just bits of data. They don’t always represent the whole truth.
The “barefoot fad” might be at an end but nothing the media can say will change the mechanics of it. The foot is designed to function. The less we interfere with that function, the better off we’ll be. There is one thing that these articles got right. There is nothing special about minimal footwear. That is the whole point! They get out of the way and let your body do its job. That’s what we’re committed to. Making footwear that does only what it needs to and let’s your body do its job.