Monday, February 09, 2009

Answer to a Question

Someone on a discussion board I visit asked, "Has anyone considered whether shoes actually cause over-pronation?"

I thought about this and came up with my own answer. Here it is:

I agree that shoes can be the cause of either over-pronating or under-pronating, depending on the way the shoe was built. I noticed that running shoes are made with pre-assumptions that people's feet need correction. So they make them with corrections built-in, thinking that will satisfy most of their buyers. In fact, there are very few shoes that do NOT have some kind of 'compensation' factor built in them!

Imagine this:

Suppose every time you took a step, someone next to you gave you a shove. Always in the same direction.

Step, (shove).
Step, (shove).
Step, (shove).
Step, (shove).

Let's name that evil guy "Shoe."

At first, this would tend to throw you off balance. Over time, you would learn to anticipate and compensate for the constant imbalance that Shoe was causing you.

If you finally had enough of the rude guy named Shoe, you might just get rid of him at some point.
[Murder not advocated.]

The problem with many people, is they get rid of Shoe, only to replace him by Shoe2, and then by Shoe3, Shoe4, etc. Each new iteration of Shoe still likes to shove you in one direction or another with every step you take, and you learn to anticipate and compensate for each one, after an initial 'break-in' period.
(You might think you are breaking Shoe in, but Shoe thinks he is breaking You in!)

Let's say you just get rid of Shoe completely. Even though he has quit shoving you around, you might still find yourself anticipating and compensating the shoving, just out of habit. Without the actual shoving taking place, you would once again be off-balance by your own compensating actions. Eventually you would get used to Shoe's absence and you would be able to walk and run completely naturally again.

This is one reason why it is almost impossible to learn to run barefoot by only running barefoot part-time! A Very Wise Man once said, "No man can serve two masters." This ties in with that.

So, as good looking as Shoe looks, or as helpful as he claims to be, he still wants to shove you off-balance with every step you take. You can't learn to run barefoot while continuing to let Shoe push you around.

Vancouver, WA