Well Dr. Kirby, A big thank you! Here was I thinking I was the only one fighting a rearguard battle to bring scientific debate to this nonsense!First we had to deal with barefoot, and now the so called Minimalist running debate. It just gets sooo frustrating.What I find fascinating however is that Joe Hammil was intimately involved in the NB minimalist project. A little bit of a pity they did not do this research BEFORE they designed the shoe.
We (ASICS) are now working on a training shoe that is less structure and lightweight, but still offering stability and holding true to a rearfoot srike pattern design. I have based this on the premise that, no matter what is being said about technical running footwear, there is no evidence that it really ‘aint broken, so we will tweak, but no need to fix. The minimalist movement works on the premise that by reducing heel height, i.e. the overall gradient,by maybe 6 mm, it induces a midfoot or even forefoot strike pattern. I have ot been able to identify one single piece of credible evidence to support this.. so.. we will stick to our guns.Once more the ether is thick with unsupportable nonsense.. pose, chi, toning barefoot, minimalist….when will it end?
Pete himself listed the the “credible evidence” Bartold claimed didn’t exist. Maybe Asics doesn’t have access to academic databases. Or printed journals. Or a library. Or the Internet.
Pete even included a Bartold quote from 2002 on barefoot running:
“I think unquestionably Zola Budd got it right when she was running barefoot. I think the signs from all the laboratories around the world would support that the human foot is probably the perfect model, but of course it’s impractical for most people wanting to go out running barefoot, there are too many obstacles, and of course you know, you might get injured by a sharp object, and the surfaces we run on transmit too much shock. But in a perfect environment on a perfect surface, then an unshod foot is probably the best way to go.”
Perhaps Simon has a future in politics.
Since it seems that Bartold is speaking for Asics, we can assume Asics is going to continue churning out raised heel motion control shoes.
- Good for them because there will always be at least a few people that will buy into the idea that they need that to run.
- Good for the technology adoption theorists because Asics fills out the “laggard” tail at the far right.
- Good for me because I can now rely on Asics to be the butt of my jokes for years to come. I was a little worried when every other company started planning or producing minimalist shoes.
For me, the scariest part of this debate isn’t that people object to the premise of barefoot or minimalist shoe running. The scariest part is they seem to completely dismiss the idea. There’s two competing hypotheses:
1. Humans have an innate “best running form” which takes advantage of our physiology. This form can be seen in children running without shoes. Based on this hypothesis, humans have been running successfully barefoot or in minimalist shoes for at least tens of thousands of years. This is the premise behind barefoot running, and by extension, minimalist shoe running. It’s the idea that you’re a strong, capable organism able to do wonderful things under your own power.
2. The vast majority of humans are inherently flawed and require special artificial devices and technologies built into special shoes in order to run. Since we are all flawed, we need experts to design special plastic, leather, and rubber shoes and shoe inserts that will allow us to run. Based on this hypothesis, our species have only been successful runners for about three or four decades. This is the same group that will claim heel striking is natural. It’s the idea that we’re weak, feeble piles of goo incapable of even the simplest forms of movement without the aid of a magical device.
For some people, #2 may be a better option. After all, there is no one right answer for all people. But is this the way we want to frame all human movement? We’re all fundamentally flawed and need artificial technology?
Of the two, which seems more plausible? Asics seems to know the answer. Good for them.