We’re doing the world a disservice by continuing to promote bad running form. This extends to the process of developing and selling shoes that promote bad running form. We should collectively work together to promote the idea that there is a better way to run, which I like to call “natural running.” The natural running movement is based on a simple principle:
There is a right way to run and humans innately know this.
This idea encompasses barefoot running, Bareform, ChiRunning, Pose, the stuff VivoBarefoot and Newton teaches, and the stuff pretty much any elite coach teaches. It can be summed up easily:
Running form should involve an upright posture with short, quick strides and the feet landing under the center of gravity. Running form should NOT involve the foot landing on the heel in front of the body.
I challenge anyone to prove this wrong. Better yet, just provide a shred of evidence that would indicate this statement could be wrong. Prove that our continued promotion of bad form is in any way justified.
How did I come to this conclusion? Let’s look at the evidence.
1. This is how children run. If you have kids, take off their shoes and watch them run. They run with a quick turnover with their feet landing under their center of gravity. It is safe to say good form is innate.
2. Raised heel shoes corrupt our natural good form. The moment you place a raised heel shoe on a child, they begin heel striking. After a few minutes, they begin overstriding. This does not happen if they wear any sort of zero-dropped shoe.
3. Prior to the introduction of the raised heel trainer, almost all runners ran with this natural form. This goes for elites and recreational runners.
4. Without modern cushioned trainers, heel striking combined with overstriding is pretty much impossible. Arguing that this flawed gait is somehow “normal” or another variation of our naturally-occurring form is flat out stupid. If we can’t do it without the cushioned heel, HOW COULD IT BE NATURAL?!?
5. There is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence supporting the superiority of overstriding with a heel strike. None. Nada. I could extend this idea to say the entire process used to fit raised heel shoes is not supported by research. It’s a castle build on a foundation of bullshit.
6. The only reason we need raised heel trainers is because we’ve already corrupted runners by introducing raised heel shoes in the first place. Once you place someone in raised heel running shoes, you create a dependence on that paradigm due to the physiological changes that occur. This is why people have to transition back to more natural running form.
There’s the argument. I challenge anyone in the running community to prove me wrong. Give me any bit of evidence that justifies the continued selling of raised heel shoes… except for reason #6 above. The running industry has long argued that it’s more important to get people running before teaching the basics of good form. Given that it only takes about 45 seconds to teach the basics of good form, we can no longer ignore the responsibility to teach this. Give me a legitimate reason all of us shouldn’t be actively working to promote good form.