Specialty running stores are body-shaming people

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by trevize1138, May 22, 2019.

  1. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    They're specifically doing this in regards to people's feet and gait. Yes, the vast majority of people who work at these stores are simply passionate about running and honestly wanting to help. But I keep hearing people say they got "prescribed" a certain type of shoe by these places after being "diagnosed" as an over-pronator, supinator, heel-striker, forefoot-striker ... whatever. The conclusion you reach after having your gait analized at these places is inevitably "My gait is X and therefore I always need to use Y shoe."

    And there's an unspoken lament in this. People shamefully admit they over-pronate or have some other trait that too often isn't a problem at all. I hear that most often when they ask me about running unshod and one of the first replies is "I could never do that because ..." and then they list some BS biomechanical issue they were once told as part of a sales pitch to get them to buy expensive shoes.

    Not once have I ever heard someone say "I have perfect feet." Everybody seems convinced their feet are horribly mangled and damaged from birth. I'm sure a lot of that thinking stars independent of a visit to a running store but those places certainly don't help. In a push to get people to buy shoes they shame them about their broken feet and everyone comes away from it initially thankful for the advice and saving them from the mistake of not running in those expensive shoes.

    It's such an abusive relationship. I don't feel any reservations about calling what they do as I see it: body shaming.
     
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  2. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    So true. We are led to believe we are broken and in need of fixing. That's the brainwashing the shoe industry and podiatry field have forced upon us for too many years, I believe all in an effort to make money. That's how I call it.
     
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  3. BFGD

    BFGD Barefooters

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    Some years prior to my discovery of barefoot running, my wife and I stopped at "the" running shoe store in our tiny state. I was taking yet another stab at running, and like so many others have been programmed to do, I was out looking for the "right" running shoe.

    A very young person trying to sell shoes had me run on a short track in the store and watched me. As I recall, he crouched down, so I knew this guy was a professional. "Over pronation!" came the pronouncement. Fortunately, they also had, IN STOCK, a *selection* of running shoes to address exactly my problem!

    I'll never forget it. For all I knew this person was still in High School. I certainly was not informed that I was being diagnosed by a certified kinesiologist, and I certainly wouldn't expect that someone certified in the study of body mechanics could diagnose a fully clothed person while watching them for less than 60 seconds, running on a SHORT track, in a store.

    My wife went through the same scam. It's not like we figured it out later. We could see it happening right there, and we talked about it on the way home. At the time, it wasn't a big deal. <--So that's how deep the brainwashing goes. It goes so deep that we accept that the absolute EXPERTS on feet are the companies that $ELL us things for our feet. And when faced with the lies and the scam, we just sort of shrug it off and get the shoes anyway because, of course, everyone needs shoes!!!!
     
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  4. BareFootBC

    BareFootBC Barefooters
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    In the small community I live in we don’t have running specific stores but the same thing applies- I got “expert” advice from people who quickly determined the best footwear for my activities.

    The beauty of going BareFoot is that I no longer waste time in shoe stores or reading reviews about shoes. I just go outside, put one foot in front of the other...instant happy
     
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  5. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    Damn. Yeah, we're all really open to suggestion in that way. Even when we suspect it's BS it's easy to default to "better safe than sorry." Just before I took the minimalist plunge my initial avoidance to it was "but I get injured so easily therefore I need support and cushioning!" Took me a while to wise up that I was getting injured a lot despite all the support and cushioning.

    I've seen the dumbass and he is me.
     
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  6. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    My personal mission is to get as many people as I can to stop recommending "get good shoes" as advice #1 to new runners. The #1 advice should be to follow the best practices of solid athletic form just like any other sport. Ours is the only sport that I know of where people suggest you start with expensive equipment and assume form is somehow locked-in and unchanging and just a part of your "gait" like your shoe size and height. If you want to start on a sport you first learn the sport. No exceptions.
     
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  7. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    But did this young kid ask you to run on the track barefoot, or did he "assess" you while you were wearing shoes? Either way, it's BS.
     
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  8. BareFootBC

    BareFootBC Barefooters
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    Awesome- a new quote to exploit. Ranks right up there with “You can’t argue with Stupid” and “I suspect I’m engaging a double digit I.Q.”, both of which are applicable to myself as well as others.
     
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  9. BFGD

    BFGD Barefooters

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    I think it was unshod, because that allowed them to observe the pronation, diagnose it, and prescribe for it. Now that you mention it though, it makes perfect sense. People who have worn (and developed in) shoes all their lives will have weak ankles and feet and will look all kinds of funky running just once on a short track barefoot. Really ridiculous.
     
  10. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    I'm reminded of Brad Pitt's method for hazing applicants to Project Mayhem.

    "If they're young 'too young.' Old? 'too old' Fat? 'too fat.'"
     
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  11. Tristan

    Tristan Barefooters
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    I kind of wonder if Vibram got sued for the tiny bit of unproven medical claim or whatever it was about their VFF's, you'd think these quick supposed gait analyses performed by store employees would open themselves up to lawsuits. Even if they did make you run barefoot, the average Joe's gait is going to be off because that is not how they usually run and there could be a lot of human error since it's not a 'blind' test, especially trying to run barefoot for the first time in very sensitive feet. I'm no doc but I wonder if a true gait analysis is even remotely possible with someone who primarily uses modern cushioned, raised heel, and probably motion/stability shoes for most of their life, without going barefoot long enough to reset things. But as most of us here know, once you go barefoot long enough, well you solve your own problems and don't need shoes any more!
     
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  12. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    The guy who assisted me long-long ago, had me run shod in the store. When I was finished, I asked/told him that I really should be running barefoot for him to assess my gait...so then he had me run barefoot. Needless to say, those shoes and all others like them have caused lifelong physical damage to my feet.

    If we are assessed while running barefoot yet we are a shod runner, they may see the true gait, but "prescribe" for the wrong running "style."

    If we are assessed while running shod yet we are a shod runner, they won't see the true gait, but they will see how the person runs in shoes. The problem is they need to check how the person is currently running in their go-to running shoes, as they may be worn down (which is actually a healthier shoe than when it was new) AND the ones they want to recommend. They may find that the gait changes somewhat.

    If we are assessed while running shod yet we are a barefoot runner, then we know that will end in tragedy, but then we know we wouldn't even be standing in that store. :barefoot:

    What do you guys think?
     
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  13. Barefoot TJ

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    Exactly.
     
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  14. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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  15. Barefoot TJ

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    Coincidentally, I just came across this article on this very subject: It's pretty decent...as long as you read the whole thing. :bookworm:

    What to do if you have flat feet
    AsiaOne
    Bu if flat feet run in your family, e.g. due to a bone abnormality or a tight Achilles tendon, then your child's arch might never fully appear. "If you walk ...
     
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  16. Tedlet

    Tedlet Barefooters
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    I know this is generalising a bit (which is probably unfair), but I think the subject of truly reliable gait analysis is a little beyond most retail stores in the uk -for the complexity of reasons already listed.
    There’s a coffee shop above our local running store which I use quite regularly. You have to walk through the shop to get to it -right past their couple of treadmills and video machines. I invariably witness people appearing convinced they’re doing the right thing by walking out of the shop with a box of expensive shoes after approximately 2 minutes of stumbling along a treadmill next to an enthusiastic sales assistant!... -always makes me smile for some reason....
     
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  17. Jon from PDX

    Jon from PDX Barefooters
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    I hadn’t thought of it in terms of body shaming. I wonder how much of that comes from more typical body shaming, from people who want to look like models and who come to running to help achieve that, and they bring with them the expectations of shaming and being shamed. Also, how much of it just comes from marketing companies which happen to sell shoes using the same, shame-based messaging that works so well when selling other superficial products.

    Learning that shoes aren’t usually necessary certainly allows us to view running specialty stores in a new light. They represent both the marketer’s lullaby (“you are inadequate”) and the manipulator’s false-choice mantra (“you can choose this product or you can choose that product”). Thinking about it now, running stores are little different from the cosmetics stands that barricade the entrances of department stores — and the shaming that they require to stay in business. The only difference I can think of is that perfume makes my head hurt while my local running shop does carry an array of interesting backpacks.

    The biggest leap of faith in running barefoot seems to be in rejecting consumeristic thinking. The brands you buy and wear, what fad diet you subscribe to, which training gurus you follow, and whether or not you have a “26.2 is for fartleks” sticker on your fender do not define you as a runner. This is one of those things like family and church where what you spend doesn’t really matter, and you won’t get anything out of it unless you put something in, but, if you sincerely try, you’ll get more out than you put in. Being a runner, and what kind of runner you are, is defined solely by what you do. There is no easy answer, nothing to buy or tell other people, only the act of putting one foot in front of the other. You can still shame yourself for not doing it to your own expectations, but that’s different from the profit-oriented shaming of retail culture (which, in turn, we’re naming and shaming here).

    The part of this that really irritates me is when runners, whose sport is 100% about dynamics and adaptation, think that feet and gait are static and immutable. (Please don’t let me get started on “zero drop.”) No, we don’t have scientific knowledge that allows us to define the best gait; we can’t even adequately describe how running happens, much less to objectively evaluate gait across subjects and conditions in any but the most rudimentary ways. But we do all have nerves that give us proprioception for short-term guidance, and lots of roiling chemicals that give rise to desires and aversions that can serve as mid-term guidance, and a fellowship of other like-minded nutjobs for long-term wisdom. We can, do, and will change; everything changes; nothing is static; and runners of all people should know that our bodies and how we can use them change based on how we do in fact use them. The choices we make — distance, speed, nutrition, hydration, footwear, etc. — will all influence where we find ourselves tomorrow. We don’t have control over how it all turns out, but, to the degree that we do, it seems insane to defer choices about our bodies to people who profit from our injuries. The only thing less sensible is to ignore the fact that change happens merely because we can’t package that understanding in an advertisement.

    If we trusted more in our bodies as coaches, and if we had coaches as coaches instead of over-hyped advertisements and underpaid sales clerks as coaches, we’d be better runners and healthier, happier people.

    Barefoot pride: amongst us are the only moral philosophers whose socks never get lost in the wash.
     
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  18. Barefoot TJ

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    Brilliant. But I actually would love to know what you think about zero drop. ;):barefoot:
     
  19. Jon from PDX

    Jon from PDX Barefooters
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    Applying pressure to foam compresses it. Feet apply pressure at varying levels and in varying places throughout each step. Midsole foam will therefore compress in different amounts, leading to different amounts of drop. The idea of "zero drop" as a flat, runner-neutral platform is therefore only other than complete and utter rubbish* when there is no midsole foam to compress, which is the case with minimalist shoes. But some people still conflate the ideas of zero drop and minimalism, with Runner's World, for example, saying "Altra's running shoes are for minimalist fiends" when some of Altra's thinnest shoes have, I believe, a 14mm midsole. (I can't verify that now because their website banned me; I don't even have permission to read their 403 error {"forbidden"} page.) If "minimal" means "of a minimum amount" (New Oxford American), and if adding foam between outsole and insole exceeds the minimum amount necessary (and none is required, see, e.g., actual minimalist shoes), then any shoe with a midsole fails to qualify as "minimalist."

    Zero drop isn't even less-maximalist than traditional wedge-pillow-shoes. If you have the same amount of padding under the heel as under the toes, you'll be standing on a reverse wedge (higher under the toes) during heel-strike -- which encourages ankle dorsiflexion upon landing which, as far as I can tell, exacerbates whiplash along the anterior chain (shin splints, runner's knee, and strains leading up to the iliac crest) and its immediate counterbalance, the lower back. Also, no runner needs as much cushioning under their toes as under their heels, so that padding acts as both anchor (extra weight) and sail (to catch on things, the least of which is wind). Zero drop shoes therefore have more pillow-related problems than traditional Nike wedges.

    So, I think zero-drop is a horrible idea, and I cannot imagine that anyone in good faith could call a big thick foam sheet "minimalist." I can forgive consumers for confusing the many ideas that swarm around in a big cloud called "minimalist/barefoot running", but I find it difficult to be patient with those who dance the line Tristan mentioned between making health claims that might be true but which are unsupported (like Vibram did) and making nonsense claims (which have no legal significance; they're "mere puffery") which I've seen demonstrated (in my own knees) as being substantially detrimental. Calling big puffy shoes "minimalist" to attract potential runners who understand that minimalist running might help them run without injury just smacks of malicious greed.

    *If I were a gymnast, I'd be in love with zero-drop, heavily padded shoes because they more closely resemble moving across a big flat pad than anything else. In that case, zero-drop is a wonderful feature. For runners, not so much.

    As a postscript: I wish running shoe companies could see barefoot running as something to embrace, not to compete against. I love unshod running, and not just because it enabled me to run in the first place. But the more I run the more I gain appreciation for different types of shoes. Traction on wet, muddy, rocky trails? I could see that being useful. Protection for when I can't see the ground? Please, yes. Warmth for when I need to stop running for a while? Great! And, recognizing that those are specialized tools, I'm willing to pay more for exactly the right product. So, if running shoe companies supported barefoot running (and otherwise encouraged people to learn to run, not just to buy shoes and get out there), there's be more runners to buy more shoes, and each might own more shoes than before. Right? I suspect the potential downside of losing a few sales due to folks not replacing their shoes every 300 miles would be more than made up for by runners who, for the first time ever, would be running more than 300 miles per year. If you disagree, that's fine. Just, please, stop co-opting our barefoot terminology to trick novice runners into buying your products.
     
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  20. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    What I like about this forum is reading posts like Jon's here that make me feel not so alone in how millitantly anti-running-shoe I am. :)
     
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