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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Using a Screwdriver to Pound Nails: The life of a barefoot runner

As a barefoot runner, many dedicated heel-strikers will claim the human foot was designed for heel striking. This demographic apparently includes some podiatrists... doctors that have received extensive training on the anatomy and physiology of the human foot. I am perpetually amazed and perplexed by this. How could anyone look at the complexity of the human foot, including the presence of the arch, and conclude that it was designed (evolved, created, whatever you believe) to land on the heel? Never mind the dumb-assery anatomical logic that is used... if this were the case, how did humans run prior to the advent of the modern running shoe some 30 years ago? Anyway, here's an analogy:

You're holding a screwdriver. The majority of the people around you insist it is designed to drive nails into wood. CAN it be used to drive nails? Sure, but it's not going to be pretty. In fact, there's a pretty good chance you're going to hurt yourself. In fact, an entire industry springs up to sell you shit that will help you avoid hurting yourself when pounding away on the nails. They sell you gloves, band-aids, different screwdriver grips, etc. You buy their wares. After all, it's what everyone else is doing. You try to pound the nails, but you still end up hurting yourself. In a moment of frustration-fueled enlightenment, you try using the screwdriver to turn a screw. Aha! THIS is what it was designed for! It connects the pieces of wood and there's no pain! You try sharing the knowledge with those around you. You insist you've found the right way to use the screwdriver. You get better results and you don't beat yourself to a bloody pulp. Instead of considering they may be wrong, they label you a zealot and continue pounding away.

So is the life of the barefoot runner.


  1. I wonder what other things in our world are analogous to shoes. Things that are supposed to protect us, but are hurting us instead.

  2. I wish I'd come up with that analogy ...brilliant!