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A Sidelight on Performance Effects of Barefoot Running

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  • A Sidelight on Performance Effects of Barefoot Running

    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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