Definitive Evidence that Barefoot Running Really Does Make You Blind

by admin on August 11, 2010

No sooner than I wrote about the possibility of barefoot running making people blind, Dr Nirenberg has come back with another post about  Barefoot Running With Eyes Wide Open which clearly proves beyond doubt that barefoot running does indeed make you blind.

He claims: 

The weight of the scientific evidence which supports barefoot running has reached such an elevated level that no one can seriously dispute it any longer

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that shows that! The only people that believe that are barefoot runners! No one in the scientific or biomechanics community is agreeing with that. Are you telling me that the entire biomehanics community is “no -one“? These people are the people that study human motion for a living and have no vested interest in the outcome of the research.

Here is the evidence that he offers up:

German study determined that inadequate shoes worn as children is correlated to the increased prevalence of bunions and flat feet in today’s adults

Here is the actual study:
Wolf S, Simon J, Patikas D, et al. Foot motion in children’s shoes: a comparison of barefoot walking with shod walking in conventional and flexible shoes. Gait Posture. 2008;27:51-9

There is absolutely nothing in that study to do with flat feet in today’s adults? It was only a study in children! Where did he get that from? Someone would have to be really blind to reach that conclusion from reading the study. Can someone show me anything about problems in adults in that study?

He goes on:

The average runner strikes the ground one thousand times per mile, thus they are highly susceptible to repetitive stress injuries (3). The greatest possibility for injury in a running foot occurs when it strikes the ground

The refernce he uses for that claim is: van Gent RN, et al. Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41:469-480

… hmmmm nothing in that about impacts causing injury. No one has yet shown that high impacts are related to injury.

He further claims:

One of the luminaries in foot research, Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman, recently stated in the science journal Nature that his research has proven that barefoot runners generate smaller collision forces than shod runners.

A “luminary” in foot research? Dr Lieberman has only done one piece of foot research! Certainly does not make him a luminary. I guess to the blind, he might be called that. Again, where is the evidence that high impacts even cause injury? Yes, there is less impact under the heel in barefoot runners, but why not mention the greater load under the forefoot and going through the Achilles tendon when running barefoot? The biomechanics community have generally dismissed the scientific validity of Lieberman’s work. The only people who have not are the barefoot runners. Why is that?

Dr. Lieberman’s research showed that since many running shoes on the market today feature stiffened soles and arch supports these lead to a reduction in arch strength due to the weakening of the muscles of the foot

Can someone please show me where in Lieberman’s research they did anything on the stiff soles and arch supports in running shoes leading to a reduction in arch strength? Where did Lieberman publish this research on arch strength? How can anyone read Lieberman’s study that was not even on arch strength and claim that it was. How blind do you have to be to see that when you read his paper?

A notable Canadian study stated that when a runner’s foot is shod in an athletic shoe, the sensations of running are minimized. Modern running shoes tend to isolate the foot from “sensing” the conditions and thus are responsible for the elevated frequency of injuries suffered by runners.

Here is this study: Robbins SE, Hanna AM, Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987;19:2:148-156

Again, no one in the biomechanics community is taking this work seriously because of flaws that underpinned the methodology and the ‘editorializing’ of the research done by the authors. Could someone please show me where in this study that they even looked at injury rates? They certainly did not show that this was “responsible for the elevated frequency of injuries suffered by runners.” This notable Canadian study did not even look at injuries! How blind is Dr Nierenberg?

The overwhelming medical evidence of these studies is more than sufficient to take the blinders off those who truly want to see and open their eyes to the reality that the preferred way to run is with bare feet.

Like the claims made by Michael Warburton, Dr Nirenberg and the “evidence” he claims supports his conclusion, he has totally failed to provide anything to back up that conclusion.

Thank you Dr Nirenberg for helping me prove that barefoot running does indeed make you blind. A clinician who is responsible for making clinical decision should be much better and much more critical at appraising research. 

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