Who is opposed to barefoot running?

by admin on March 11, 2010

Who is opposed to barefoot running? The barefoot running community have a track record of playing the person and not the ball and always like to go after or criticise the perceived opponents of barefoot running rather than rationally discuss the issues. Why do they have to criticise these opponents? Is barefoot running really that bad that it cannot stand on its own two feet (excuse the pun)? Is barefoot running really that bad, that the only way for the barefoot runners to justify what they do is to attack the opponents of barefoot running?

Who are these opponents of barefoot running? Are they real or are they figments of the imagination of the barefoot runners?

The most obvious targets of barefoot runners are Podiatrists and the running shoe companies.

A check of the popular podiatry forum, Podiatry Arena, shows that they have had many discussions on barefoot running.  None of the Podiatrists who post there seem to be opposed to barefoot running. They are like me and just object to the way the barefoot running nutters twist and manipulate the research and are intellectually dishonest when it comes to interpreting and representing the research (and in the case of two barefoot websites exposed here, they lie about it). They also seem to object to the consistent way that barefoot runners always avoid discussing issues and attack the person (ie play the person and not the ball).

A regular commentator on barefoot running, Craig Payne commented on Podiatry Arena

I not opposed to barefoot running….it’s just the fanaticism and irrationality of so many of its supporters. How they blindly accepted and reported the above research is a perfect example of exactly what I am saying.

It’s called the Straw Man argument. ….characterise your opponents position as something it’s not and then go after or refute that characterisation. They never really refute the original proposition. The barefoot runners are really good at that. …but we can see through them.

Are there actually any podiatrists who are opposed to barefoot running? (I have made my views very clear many times). Barefoot runners like to use Podiatrists as the ‘bogey man’ — but how many podiatrists actually are against barefoot running? If you look at all the threads we have had on the topic, it’s all been about how the barefoot runners misuse, misrepresent and misunderstand the research and how they promote the badly done research.

Simon Bartold, a podiatrist who works for ASICS said pretty much the same thing in the same discussion and never said he had any opposition to barefoot running. Kevin Kirby in a debate in Runners World magazine never came out and said he opposed barefoot running. Do you notice how many of the pro-barefoot running comments do not really deal with any of the issues that Kevin Kirby raised and just attack him. This is what the barefoot running community do (ie play the person and not the ball).

Ian Griffiths, a sports podiatrist in the UK wrote an article evaluating the Liebermann et al and Kerrigan et al studies that the barefoot running community fell for. The critique was not too dissimilar to mine here. He then got himself into a debate with a barefoot runner on twitter and the best that the barefoot runner could come up with was that he was biased as he treats injuries. Yes, he does treat injuries, but what about the issues Ian raised in the critique? Why not deal with or refute them?  See that this is the best that they could come up with! (I not biased by that one as I do not make a living treating injuries).

Robert Isaacs summed it up nicely: 

It takes far less knowledge and thought to attack the messenger than it does to attack the message. It’s easy, anyone can do it. And It diverts attention nicely away from the science.

There are even Podiatrists who are barefoot runners and openly promote it. They are obviously not opposed to barefoot running.

It is really hard to find any podiatrists actually opposed to barefoot running. I can find many expressing caution about doing it, which is exactly what the barefoot running community express as well. The only difference is that health professionals have professional accountability and are licensed to practice and have laws governing what they do. The barefoot runners giving advice do not have that accountability for bad advice (for example, I have seen no one in the barefoot running community hold accountable the two barefoot running websites that lied about the Kerrigan research. Why is that?)

What about the running shoe companies? Are they opposed? Not according to statements made by them (but we know that the barefoot running community will not agree with that because of their tin foil hats). The barefoot running community make extraordinary claims about how bad running shoes are, but none of it is backed up by any evidence. There is evidence that they are being intellectually dishonest about and claim it shows running shoes are bad, but it does not. They have been extremely silent on the most recent research that shows running shoes may reduce injury and increase endurance ;-).

But what if running shoes are bad or not, what has that got to do with the merits of if barefoot running is good or bad? Why do the barefoot runners even care? See the point I am making? If barefoot running was any good, it would stand on its own merits and not stand on attacks on imaginary problems with the running shoe industry.

The opponents of barefoot running are a figment of the imagination of the barefoot running community. As the barefoot running community have demonstrated that they cannot rationally discuss issues and continually misrepresent research, then the only thing left is to attack these so called opponents. Does that just not show you the weakness of the position that they are arguing from?

Is barefoot running really that bad, that it cannot stand on its own merits? Is barefoot running that bad, that the only way the barefoot running community can defend barefoot running is to attack opponents. My advice to the barefoot running community: Start playing the ball and not the person.

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