View Full Version : A Sidelight on Performance Effects of Barefoot Running

03-31-2010, 08:47 AM
Dear All,

Here is a sidelight on Michael Orendurff's interesting comments on the
disadvantages of wearing shoes. In his recent book ("The Brain That
Changes Itself", 2007) Norman Doidge provided a relevant insight. He
mentioned that according to Merzenich if shoes are worn for many years
this limit the sensory feedback from the feet to the brain and this
reduces the brain's ability to process sensations from the soles of the
feet unless one gets used to barefoot walking.

Merzenich also mentioned that wearing shoes leads to a loss of "gross
motor control" as we age, hence barefoot walking in childhood and
adolescence (on beaches for instance) might be crucial to the success of
particular athletes in barefoot running programs. He noted that this
deficit can lead to loss of mobility and confidence in older walkers.
Perhaps this factor also de-motivates young athletes. See page 20 of
this excerpt from Doidge's book:

Foot arch muscles might not be crucial after all. Maybe it's all in the


David McFarlane MAppSc (Ergonomics)
Ergonomist, WorkCover NSW


Norman Doidge, (2007), "The Brain That Changes Itself", [Scribe
Publications, Melbourne]. See:


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