“Kids should not be running in ‘minimalist footwear’ at all and, as in other shoes, should be wearing brand name running shoes with good motion control, cushioning, etc.”
- David Davidson, D.P.M., president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), Running Times Magazine, April 2010
Parents: Where does this statement rank as the worst advice you’ve ever heard?
I think you can guess where I’d cast my vote. This ranks right up there with “Buy your kid everything they desire”, “Hold your baby over an unlit stove burner so the gas will help it fall asleep”, or “Just leave your kids in the car while you visit the strip club” advice.
Seriously Dr. Davidson?
Let’s ignore the research on running gait, anecdotal evidence regarding foot health, our evolutionary history, logic, and common sense for a moment. You’re trying to sell us on the idea that we should be encasing our kids’ feet in shoes with “good motion control…”?! Really?
The good doctor is claiming we need to limit the movement of our children’s feet to maintain health. I didn’t realize the human body functioned better when immobilized. If we use this logic, why don’t we go a step further. Instead of exposing our children to the rigors of regular exercise, shouldn’t we be promoting a nice, safe sedentary lifestyle? Shouldn’t parents focus on finding a good, engrossing video game coupled with a good supportive couch? And we can’t have any of that crazy Wii or Kinect bullshit… it’s just way too dangerous.
What if this isn’t good enough, though? Should we further immobilize our children? How about a full body cast? According to the good doctor’s apparent logic, that should result in optimal health.
I can understand the medical community covering their ass by recommending a slow transition to minimalist shoes if kids have been wearing motion control shoes, but an outright blanket statement like this is absurd. Is this evidence-based? If so, can the good doctor give the citation of the peer-reviewed research that suggests name brand motion control shoes with ample cushioning are somehow better for our children?
If you’re shaking your head from side to side, you’re right. This evidence isn’t cited because it does not exist. The truth is the medical community pumps out statements like this on a regular basis because of their own flawed training, opinions developed based on shoe marketing campaigns, or groupthink. Worse, because they have a “DPM” after their name, people are more likely to believe every statement they vomit. We’re trained to believe “experts” even though they are subject to the same biases and logical flaws that plague the rest of us.
The Preventative Medicine Paradigm
There’s a growing movement toward preventative health. The idea is simple- we’ll have fewer medical problems if we take steps to live a healthy lifestyle. This includes habits such as:
- Eating a healthy balanced diet without overconsumption
- Regular exercise
- Brushing our teeth and flossing daily
- Limiting our intake of alcohol, drugs, or other possible harmful substances
- Having regular medical screening to catch disease early
The idea is to strengthen the body, maintain health, and catch problems early. It helps people live healthier, longer lives and reduces medical costs. It rejects the idea of “treatment-based medicine” that fixes problems once they occur. It’s a great idea widely supported by the medical community.
How does shoe choice fit this paradigm?
The good doctor recommends shoes that limit movement of our kids’ feet. We know immobilization weakens anatomical structures. In essence, he’s recommending shoes that would weaken our kids’ feet. This idea sets our kids up for a lifetime of reliance on supportive shoes and… well, the services of a sports podiatrist. This is the epitome of the treatment-based medicine paradigm. Don’t bother strengthening the body; instead rely on a lifetime of treatment. I like to call ideas like this “medical dumbassery.”
This seems like the same logic as telling a parent to feed their kid potato chips, taffy, soda, and sausage for every meal because they make choke on a piece of broccoli. No worries, though, we can get the kids on some good diabetes and blood pressure meds, and there’s always the option of heart surgery later in life.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow our kids to go barefoot when there’s no significant danger of injury, or have them wear a flat-soled minimalist shoe that didn’t restrict movement of the foot? This would allow for normal, healthy foot development. THIS would be the epitome of logical preventative health.
Of course I don’t have fancy initials after my name. I don’t lead a major organization of doctors with an even fancier name. I’m just a dumb homeless blogger that relies on silly ideas like logic and common sense. What do I know?
Parents: Agree with my assessment? Share this post on your favorite social media or email to your closest friends, family, and coworkers. Let’s start a revolution to protect your kids’ feet.
Check out this article by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella regarding kids and minimalist shoes: http://naturalrunningcenter.com/2011/09/28/kids-minimalist-shoes-ensure-natural-foot-development/
Also, check out the video from Pete Larson’s RunBlogger blog: http://www.runblogger.com/2012/05/set-your-piggies-free-when-it-comes-to.html