Connect 13 Day 2 – Part Two: Barefootin' it!

5:40PM : After Yasuo Kakwakami lays out all his data about the kinetic storage capacity of tendons  in the lower leg Benno Nigg from the University of Calgary brings the house down with his talk on barefoot vs. shod running. He boldly states: "There is no experimental or theoretical evidence that barefoot running has or should have less injuries than shod running." And I do mean boldly. Benno delivery style is a cross between Serge Gracovetsky and Lewis Black ( and I do loves me a good contrarian curmudgeon). But along with his entertaining demeanor, Benno uses the  highly skeptical scalpel of his intellect to skewere all the accepted wisdom about barefoot running and he brilliant unpacks the data showing that barefoot running does not mean less heel strike, that barefoot running does not use less energy and so on. He's also very skeptical about the kinetic storage capacity of fascial tissues, much to many participant's dismay. BTW, kangaroos don't run, they hop, and therein lies a fundamental difference for him.

For me his presentation as been the highlight of the conference and adds a much needed zing of controversy to the proceedings. By the way, Benno was a sprinter in his youth and has written a book on the physics of running shoe designs. But lest you think he's in Nike's back pocket (actually I heard later he has some kind of deal with Adidas) he concludes that barefoot vs. shod running  is the wrong question to be asking.  It all comes down to individual preference.

If you prefer running barefoot you will run better barefoot than shod and vice versa. I think that is a statement any reasonable person can get behind.