Born to Run Revisited

In a recent blog post, I wrote about my response to an article on the evolution of distance running. A reader of my blog, Molly Suber Thorpe, posted a comment in which, among other things, she recommended the book Born to Run. I promptly purchased it (on my Kindle) and found it quite interesting. Although the jury is still out for me on whether distance running evolved for the purpose of hunting large ungulates, I was fascinated by the current shift toward barefoot running or running with shoes that serve only to protect the foot from cuts and scrapes rather than build support.

As a child my parents always had arch supports put in my Oxfords. Years later when I purchased all my son’s clothes -- including shoes -- from thrift shops, a friend said she wouldn’t get shoes at thrift shops because it was so important that they provide the proper support and thus be new. Something about this always perplexed me. Didn’t we evolve with feet? Haven’t we existed as a species for long enough that our feet would, theoretically, be well evolved? Haven’t we been running and jumping and climbing barefoot for an awfully long time? Why would extra support be necessary?

Interestingly, the book Born to Run shares studies and research that suggest that our extra-support running shoes may be responsible for more injuries rather than fewer. We run differently when we have lots of support and padding, and we land on our heels. Run barefoot and you quickly realize that you don’t land on your heels.

It’s funny how recommendations for what’s healthy and MOGO can reverse with the times. Another reminder to trust common sense, consider our origins and years of evolution, and be critical in our inquiries rather than trust whatever trends arise.

~ Zoe
Author of Most Good, Least Harm and Above All, Be Kind

Image courtesy of Linda W via Creative Commons.

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