Saturday, 21 July 2012

Hitting the mainstream?

Lots of people watched the Panorama investigation on BBC1 this week. It was an interesting programme debunking common myths and assumptions about running and fitness.
Guess what - bare feet are more efficient than trainers, sports drinks are a waste of money and (this one did surprise me!) dehydration is less dangerous than drinking too much water/electrolytes.

From my point of view, it was interesting seeing the trainers/barefoot discussion finally edging towards the mainstream. There is a link to the iPlayer here, starting at the point where the investigation turned to assessing trainers.

Obviously the programme was about human running and fitness but there are some fascinating parallels. Horses are the only animals - other than humans - who are routinely shod AND whose footfall and landing we try to change with shoes.

I've thought for years that our attempts are likely to be counter-productive, and in "Feet First" I included some research into human barefoot/shod injury rates.

Guess what, injury rates are lower barefoot and biomechanics improved :-) No big surprise there but very satisfying to see it on BBC at prime time.

Even more interesting, the programme highlighted some research done into shoes which are intended to change footfall and provide "support" for compromised feet.

Guess what, the shoes which were supposed to correct footfalls had NO impact on injury rates. There is a link to the research mentioned in the programme here:

Doesn't this makes you wonder if we should actually be promoting less in the way of remedial farriery and more in the way of overall barefoot hoof health?

Now there is more and more research being done into human vs barefoot, surely equine research should follow?


amandap said...

I sat with bated breath waiting for barefoot runners to be mentioned! lol

I got very cross I'm afraid re the drinks. That sort of advertizing really shouldn't be legal.

amandap said...

Nic wrote...
"Doesn't this makes you wonder if we should actually be promoting less in the way of remedial farriery and more in the way of overall barefoot hoof health?"

Definitely 100% yes. The focus is so much on a medical model and imo the basics of hoof (and horse) health are lost in the race to fix and 'protect' with mechanical means and thinking, rather than prevent problems and get hooves strong and robust.

Andrea said...

Barefoot running has been gaining popularity in the States for a few years now, and minimalist running shoes have become VERY popular. I myself own a pair and don't ever run in anything else!

Nic Barker said...

Here too, Andrea though I think we are a bit behind you guys :-) This is the first time its hit primetime TV though and the BBC's Panorama is well respected so its a step change for us!

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

My Husband is a runner and a cross fit fan, he does above in his barefoot Vibrams and loves it. It's currently helping his lower back which he suffered from for years :) He wore his Vibrams on our current trip to South Africa where literally people stopped him to ask why he was only wearing socks LOL!

Val said...

Great news!

My husband has terrible foot and joint pain if he runs in the super padded, "supportive" running shoes on the market. He and I now run in bare-bones shoes with no padding or arch shape in the sole. It is so much easier to run and there is no hitting with the heel first, which is actually very jarring for the human!

Nic Barker said...

I love my Five Fingers too Kristen - just wish is wasn't so wet and cold here so much of the year :-)

Val - agreed! We need to remember that the horse's "heel" is anatomically the back of one digit, not the same as a human heel :-) Either way, it doesn't suit us or them to land on the toe then roll backwards!

Rachael Duffy said...

yes yes yes! It NEEDS to be mainstream and soon! I for one am happy to help create giant albino gorillas to shout 'Rockley Farm' and 'Barefoot Performance' from the rooftops for anyone whos seen Futurama lmao Thats got to help right? or maybe albino unicorns? :D

Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth said...

I run and do gym classes in bare feet when I can, and minimal trainers when not - I could never run before, and can now! It took a while to get the class leaders to believe it wasn't 'hurting/damaging' my feet! I'm so relieved it's going mainstream at last, and will try and catch the programme on iplayer when I'm not at work.