Barefoot-Shoe Heaven

Recently by Jeffrey A. Tucker: Suddenly, It's Back to the Stone Age

The best thing about the five-finger Vibram shoe – the craze has certainly reach the tipping point – is that it lets the runner navigate terrain that had previously been in accessible.

With heel-first running, I had always been restricted to sidewalks and streets. Now that I run as the body's frame and leg muscles intended, I can utterly dominate and conquer nature itself, smashing under foot pine straw, dirt, zoysia grass, centipede grass, bermuda grass, small rocks, and every other rough-hewn path of earth you can find in suburbia other than marshy land strewn with ant hills or dog waste.

So of course I decided to have a bonding moment with my dog and take him on my nature run. I imagined two of God's creatures running as we were intended to do, he with his built ins and I with my Vibrams. He was excited as always to see the leash, and off we went.

I landed on the earth and took off. He stopped dead in his tracks. To my amazement, he utterly refused to run with me as nature intended. It was sidewalks for him or nothing. So I spent the rest of this humiliating journey with the dog running wimpily on the sidewalks as I ran along the small patch of edged lawn on either side.

I swear that the whole time he kept looking at me with with a skeptical stare as if to say: what the heck are you doing? So I'm wondering what his little paws are good for. Do I have to find some doggie Vibrams to get this pet to run as he should? After all, it is true that this breed of dog would not have evolved in nature. With my Vibrams, I'm even more the beast than this designer dog is willing to be.

This new innovation in shoes is one of the more spectacular entrepreneurial moves I've ever witnessed. To those who are out of the loop, the theory goes that shoes with heels encourage us to run (and it applies to walking too) on our heels first, but that approach is contrary to what our bodies really want to do. Running barefoot, you can easily see what happens. We land on the balls of our feet. This changes everything. The center of gravity shifts. We use new muscles. For the first time, our toes actually seem to have a role in keeping our balance. The awkwardness of running (or walking) goes away and we experience a new-found stability.

If you don't believe the logic, you can watch some amazing promotional videos that appeal to the boyhood fantasy that the right pair of shoes will make you jump higher and run faster than all your peers.