"I'd go barefoot all the time if I could."

We hear that sentiment ALL the time! Really. You CAN go barefoot much more often -- even in public! This site has tons of resources to help society become more "barefoot friendly," but you must begin with your own two feet.

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Entries in research (2)

Thursday
Jun272013

Thoughts on a Study of Pronation and the Need for Shoes

Foot pronation is not associated with an increased risk of injury in novice runners, a prospective study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found. The study calls into question claims that foot type and pronation are key in choosing what shoes a person wears when running. The Barefoot Alliance asserts that this helps reinforce our opinion that it's best for healthy individuals to allow feet to remain barefoot or wear only minimal foot protection when walking or running.

According to an article published in the New York Times, Danish researchers used "elaborate measurements and visual evaluations" to follow 927 healthy individuals of both sexes ranging in age from 18 to 65 over the course of a year.

Rasmus Ostergaard Nielsen, the researcher who led the study, concluded that foot type is far down the list of considerations when beginning a running regimen. He said runners would more effectively “pay attention to things like body mass, training, behavior, age and previous injury in order to prevent running-related injuries.”

Because the study only had participants use "neutral" running shoes, it's not appropriate to say that the results can directly endorse a case for barefoot activity. We believe, however, that it makes a good point about the role of shoes in controlling and fixing what many podiatrists and other experts believe are flaws with the human foot. A need for arch support is often claimed as a fix for pronation, however this study implies against that need.

Daniel Howell, PhD, a biology professor at Liberty University and author of The Barefoot Book, has long asserted that arch supports are unnecessary and can harm the innate functioning of the feet. He has even posted a short Youtube video describing the importance of the windlass mechanism and how shoes with arch support -- purportedly for the purpose of fixing overpronation -- cause a disruption.

We must also note that this discussion is about "healthy" individuals. People who are obese, have foot complications due to diabetes, or suffer from peripheral neuropathy must consult with their health care providers about the appropriateness of barefoot activity.

Tuesday
Jun252013

There Are More of Us Than You Might Think

In our advocacy for barefoot living, it's prudent for The Barefoot Alliance to get some kind of idea of how many people have an actual interest in going barefoot when they feel they can't. Knowing this gives legitimacy to the cause and bolsters our interest in moving it forward. There are a few ways to measure numbers, however it is admittedly difficult to gauge the numbers with statistical certainty without hiring some fancy (expensive) research firm. Still, some interesting figures have come up over the years with the most recent being a simple "poll" of tweets on the topic.

As part of  our presence on Twitter we monitor search results for tweets that use a number of keywords and phrases related to barefoot activity. There is some "noise" -- mentions of the Barefoot brand of wine, for example -- but we've done enough tweaking to our searches to get good returns when someone tweets about their desire to go barefoot.

In a search of all tweets posted from Saturday, June 15 through Friday, June 21, 2013, we discovered a (mean) average of 26.9 tweets per day in which someone posted a desire to go barefoot by saying that they "would" or that they "wish" they were able to. The standard deviation was 6.15.

A sample:

 

 

 

It's important to understand that we were quite strict with what "counted" and what didn't. We looked at the sentiment in each tweet, counting only those tweets in which the poster specifically expressed a desire to go barefoot.

Many sentiments were "retweeted" several times -- look at the last one above -- but do retweets count as a endorsements of the original tweet? We didn't count retweets just to be safe.

What we wonder is, if roughly 27 people a day, at a reasonable minimum, are willing to tweet they'd rather be barefoot, how many more have the same desire but don't post it?

Then again, how many people posted something like that but their phrasing didn't meet our search criteria? How many others share that desire but aren't on Twitter at all?

A couple of years ago, our founder, Michael Buttgen, conducted a Facebook poll asking a simple question: "Would you go totally barefoot in public if it was socially acceptable and the weather was nice?" While admittedly unscientific, it was meant to get a rough idea of where people's heads were at. He discovered that 3/4 of Facebook users who answered the question would go barefoot in public at least "some of the time" if they the conditions were right.

Based on these results, we believe it's reasonable to assume that there are a significant number of people -- especially people on popular social media outlets -- who would be interested in going barefoot more often. The question is, "how do we educate and inform that going barefoot is safe, hygienic, socially acceptable and that there's a LOT of us out there so that those who want to go barefoot will start going barefoot?"

More to come on that.