Like anything that becomes a fad, and let's face it, barefoot running has hit that point, there is the inevitable backlash. I can't say I blame people either. Most of the things I read in the mainstream media are things along lines of:
- You will never get injured again.
- You will cure your injuries.
- Just shuck off your shoes and run stupid, you've been duped by the shoe companies.
- Studies show shoes wreck your feet.
While there may be some truth to these statements, they certainly aren't whole truths. Unfortunately people believe these outright, attempt said barefoot running like they would shod running, and in the process injure themselves. This leads to immediate backlash, injury, blisters, cursing.
The more skeptical people see through the media sugar coated bologna. They then perceive barefoot folks as being out of touch with reality. Which if they followed this, they surely would be.
Unfortunately the shoe companies, and shoe retailers pick these blanket impossibilities as the targets of their attacks and rebuttals against barefoot running. It is difficult to attack research, experience, and common sense. It is much easier to attack straw men.
This hoopla makes it difficult to promote barefoot running in a pragmatic light without being classified as a nut-job. When I speak to people about it, I try to make the following things clear:
- It takes time to adapt, what to some may seem like, and actually be, a lot of time.
- It's not going to cure anything, it's not medicine, but it may help you change your stride for the better.
- You're going to screw up. You're going to drag your toes, or step on a rock, or do something else stupid...eventually. Just realize you were probably going to screw up running with shoes on as well.
- It may feel awkward as hell. That means you're doing something right.
If you're interested in running barefoot please remember that being practical, experimenting, and learning what works for you is the only true path towards smooth, injury-free running -- whatever your choice of footwear.