Minimalistic Shoes and Restoring Your Feet

From Lava Magazine.

Are Minimalistic Shoes a Sham?

by T.J. Murphy

Feet after using minimalist shoes. ITB
Using progressive exposure to usage of minimalistic shoes, this runner reclaimed arches and better mechanics.

Was the Vibram verdict wrong? Two doctors say that flat, minimalistic shoes can bring your feet back to life in a natural, omnipotent way.

Is the minimalistic shoe dead? It seems to be a popular headline these days, particularly since Vibram USA, the company that makes the five-fingered super-minimal shoes, lost in a class-action lawsuit this past May to the tune of $3.75 million. When the news of the settlement hit, I read various Facebook posts on how this was finally the coffin door slamming shut on minimalism.

The lawsuit suggested Vibram made false marketing claims in regard to strengthening the feet and rewarding the user health and injury-prevention benefits.

The court case was a flashpoint in the running-shoe-store narrative that has become common over the last few years. Here’s how it usually goes down: A runner or triathlete reads Born To Run, and becomes inspired by Barefoot Ted and the Tarahumara Indians portrayed in Christopher McDougall’s bestselling running-thriller. Fired up, the runner chucks his dual-density-EVA running shoes—with the stiff heel counter and a “stability” bridge baked into the arch of the shoe—and buys a pair of Vibrams, Nike Frees or Inov-8s, ostensibly moving from a 12mm heel-to-toe drop in their shoes to a 3mm drop or even zero drop heel-to-toe differential. And zap! Their Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, and a sidelining injury is introduced before the shoes are even broken in.

The Vibram lawsuit seemed to be thunder strike of angst from runners and triathletes who suffered this kind of outcome during their minimalist foray.

Is it true though? Are minimalist shoes a sham?

There’s at least one runner/podiatrist who doesn’t think so. Dr. Nick Campitelli fiercely believes that a slow transition to a minimalistic shoe will do the exact sort of thing that Vibram was accused of falsely suggesting: Strengthen the foot. According to Campitelli, a long-term transition from a motion-control or stability shoe to a flat, bare-minimum shoe will unleash the powers of the human foot and erase the various atrophies that may have occurred from years of wearing shoes that act like a cast on the foot.

Read more at Lava Magazine.

In Inside the Box, veteran journalist and marathoner T.J. Murphy goes all in to expose the gritty, high-intensity sport of CrossFit®. From staggering newcomer to evangelist, Murphy finds out how it feels, why it’s so popular, and whether CrossFit can fix his broken body.