Original publication of article: Asia Trail Magazine
Early History – Once hominids became upright, running could not have been far behind. Shoeless.1860s – Track spikes become popular in England. These shoes have minimal heel cushioning.
1950s – 1960s – British Bruce Tulloh broke many European records running barefoot. Later he runs across the USA in shoes.
1960 Rome – Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won Olympic marathon gold running barefoot by accident as meet sponsor Adidas ran out of his size. He had trained both with and without shoes but thought no shoes was better than too tight.
1962 – Bill Bowerman, University of Oregon track coach and Nike co-founder releases a small leaflet “A Jogger’s Manual.”
1964 Tokyo – Bikila breaks world marathon record wearing shoes.
1966 – Bowerman publishes a book called “Jogging.”
1968 – Original Nike Cortez comes out.
1974 – Nike Waffle trainer and explosion of Nike
1977 – Jim Fixx becomes releases “the Complete Book of Running” fully popularising running for fitness and weight loss. Millions are running in cushioned, high heel Nike shoes.
1984 – Jim Fixx dies while jogging beginning controversy whether jogging is good for you at all!
1999 – Designer Robert Fliri proposes a minimalist shoe to Vibram USA CEO Tony Post. FiveFingers is conceived!
2004 – Harvard’s Daniel Lieberman becomes the father of the current interest in barefoot running when his group publishes
a paper in the journal Nature that concluded “The fossil evidence of these features suggests that endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo, originating about 2 million years ago, and may have been instrumental in the evolution of the human body form.
2005 – release of Vibram FiveFingers. BFR now changes to include minimal footwear.
2007 – Lieberman et al. release a follow up paper suggesting humans have evolved to be particularly adept endurance runners to “help meat-eating hominids compete with other carnivores.
2009 – “Born To Run” book published by Christopher McDougall. It takes a lot from the work of Lieberman and re-visits the Tarahumara tribe seen in 1981 in Peter Nabokov’s book “Indian Running.”
2009 to Now – More studies comparing barefoot runners (and minimalist) to shod runners in efforts to see if there is any difference in running economy and any difference in injury rates between the two.
2012 – Lawsuit brought against Adidas and their health claims for their glove-like Adipure trainer.
2013 – Several lawsuits against health claims by toning shoes: $40 million from Sketchers, $5.3 million from FitFlop and $2.3 million from New Balance.
2014 – Vibram settles a $3.75 million class action law suit for deceptive marketing that seemed unsubstantiated. Vibram claimed the FiveFingers would:
- strengthen muscles in the foot and lower leg
- improve the range of motion in the ankle, foot and toes
- stimulate neural function important to balance and agility
- eliminate heel lift to align the spine and improve posture
- allow the foot and body to move naturally.
- running related injuries to bone and connective tissue in the legs are rare in developing countries where most are unshod.
- where both barefoot and shod populations exist (Haiti), injury rates of lower extremity are substantially higher in shod population
- footwear can increase the risk of ankle sprains
- plantar fasciitis is rare in barefoot populations
- running barefoot reduces oxygen consumption by a few percent.