Manufacturing a Better Foot | Running Shoes

I’ve been an adult for a while now and inrecent years, I find myself wondering why things are the way they are… and more specifically, were they always like this? You see, I’m a runner and as any runnercan tell you, injuries are just a fact of life – it’s not a matter of if, but when.

I certainly haven’t been immune to thatfact, I’ve broken metatarsals, lost toenails, and have hundreds of frequent flyer mileswith Achilles tendonitis – regardless of how far I run or how expensive my shoes are.

And I’m forced to ask… why? The older generation of runners who have passedon their knowledge say that it’s always been this way – regardless of what shoesyou wear or what surface you run on, you will get injured and here are a dozen anecdotaltreatments.

But now the internet exists, and… I’m not sure that’s true.

I was browsing through old race photos andI realized that the further back I went, the less shoe there was- I mean, what are those?! Those don’t look anything like my shoes.

Something changed in the early 70s and we’vebeen dealing with the consequences ever since.

It wasn’t always this way… What happened? This video was brought to you by CuriosityStreamand Nebula.

One of the more popular New Year’s resolutionsis to get in shape, which usually includes a healthy dose of running.

Which is often people’s least favorite exercise.

Before we go any further, I want to say thatif you’re exercising, you aren’t injuring yourself, and you’re happy with what you’redoing – keep doing it.

Do not change your technique or equipmentbecause of some youtuber.

But, since it is March, if you’ve givenup on your resolution because you just can’t seem to get the hang of running or it hurtstoo much – the problem might not be you.

Like hiking, running is one of those thingsthat we all assume we can just do… So are so cute with whole running thing.

I’m a runner now.

Me too.

I mean, we’ve all got legs, we’re allin a hurry sometimes.

We’re all runners when we need to be, right? … No?! Just because I know the rules of chess andI can physically move the pieces around the board, that doesn’t mean I’m any goodat it.

I’m just lucky I haven’t hurt myself playingit yet.

Or, even if you can do a deadlift, you’renot going to go around calling yourself a powerlifter, because you know there’s moreto it than that.

But running? We’re all runners when we need to be, right? That wasn’t always the case, something changedthat made us all think we’re runners and to explain how that happened, we need to goback to the 70s… …Okay, so usually the joke is ‘lol notthat far’ but in this case, we ac- That’s better.

I’m talking about the before-time, in thelong-long ago.

In the 1870s, the most popular spectator sportin America and perhaps the world was something called Pedestrianism.

Which is exactly what you think it is – walking.

Thousands of people from all over the countrywould get together to watch or listen to other people walk 500 miles around a track overthe course of six days.

Basically NASCAR, without the car.

Complete with collectible trading cards, celebrityendorsement deals, and doping scandals involving the precursor to cocaine.

Fun for the whole family! The sport evolved over time into race walking, which is a lot of fun to watch, assuming the Olympics still happen this year.

The key difference between walking and runningis that one foot must remain in contact with the ground at all times.

They call this the Heel-Toe Rule, not justbecause that’s how you walk – heel-toe – but because the toe of one foot cannotcome up off the ground until the heel of the other foot is down.

It is hilarious to watch them try to enforcethis rule.

Running was technically allowed in old-schoolPedestrianism, they’d do it to stave off a cramp or recover from a trip, but it wasgenerally seen as a poor long-term strategy.

You want to conserve your energy; this isn’ta sprint, it’s a… this isn’t a marathon it’s… mmkay.

The various gambling scandals and riots causedby Pedestrianism caused the sport to eventually fade into the background in favor of moreexciting things like football and baseball.

By the turn of the century, it was basicallynon-existent.

Running – and sports in general – becamesomething that only professional athletes did, maybe you did it as an extracurricularin high school or college, but that was it.

The only adults who ran were in the Olympics.

It was so rare and suspicious to see someonerunning on the street that the police would ticket you for “improper use of a highwayby a pedestrian.

” Strom Thurmond was one of those people in1968 – that’s how recently running was still seen as weird.

Something had to happen to change public opinionand normalize running, and as has been the case for many turning points in history…we can blame a book.

Jogging, written in 1967 by Bill Bowerman.

Bowerman was the track coach at the Universityof Oregon and also coached the US team during several international events.

In 1962, he found himself in New Zealand, where he met Arthur Lydiard.

Lydiard has organized the first running clubin the world and invited Bowerman and his team to join them for a jog.

Bowerman loved the idea so much, he decidedto bring it back to the United States.

The majority of the book describes severaltraining regimens for different skill levels, but the first 50 pages or so describe howand why you should start jogging.

Both Lydiard and Bowerman believed that regularexercise, centered around jogging, was good for your health.

Which was kind of a hot take to have at thetime.

Those of you with an ear for this sort ofthing might have picked up on the fact that this is the first time I’ve referred toit as “jogging.

” They invented and popularized this new word.

Before them, jogging was something you didto a machine or your memory to get it to start working properly.

It didn’t refer to an exercise until the1960s.

Throughout his book describing various techniquesand recommendations, Bowerman repeatedly draws a distinction between runners and joggers.

Professional athletes are runners, you’rea jogger.

To get the most from the jogging program, you should periodically assess your progress.

Unlike the runner, you may have to be yourown coach and trainer.

Runners have a number of diet habits thatjoggers can adopt.

After a heavy workout, particularly on a warmday, runners will drink a cup of bouillon.

That’s right, before Gatorade was invented, athletes would drink down bouillon cubes to replace their electrolytes.

This book is full of fun relics from the pastlike that.

Take this height and weight chart – accordingto this, the only time I was a desirable weight was when I first started the channel, andthat’s assuming I’m a quote “large frame.

” But don’t worry… Believe it or not, under that flab, you havethe same body as the successful runners.

Yours just operates physiologically on a differentplane.

Well, I think I found my new Tinder bio… I’m not fat, my body just operates on adifferent plane… and I’m big boned.

But as you might expect, there’s a lot ofcasual sexism in here as well.

Women seem to perform best when they feelwell dressed.

So, a bit of style consciousness, providingit doesn’t become competitive, is all right.

Women who look and feel better in skirts shouldchoose them with enough fullness for freedom of action.

You, yourself, are the only equipment necessary.

Many fitness programs cost a great deal beforethe first workout.

Not so with jogging.

Ladies with only high heels will need a pairof flats.

And here’s where we get to the heart ofthe matter.

… Shoes.

Bowerman wasn’t only an award-winning trackcoach, he was part-owner of Blue Ribbon Sports, which had just started distributing OnitsukaTiger shoes in America.

But he was also an inventor and tinkerer.

He modified his runner’s shoes with differentmaterials and shapes in order to give them a competitive advantage.

He did it on his own for decades, but nowhe had a shoe company that could mass produce them.

Many of his design changes had been implementedby the factory and when his book came out, their most popular product was the OnitsukaTiger Limber Up.

This book was just an introduction to joggingfor the average American and as a result, his recommendations are very open-ended.

Joggers come in all shapes and sizes, in awide range of age levels and varying degrees of fitness.

When they set out to jog, their techniquesvary greatly.

But, remember, how you jog is never as importantas that you jog.

I agree with him, any exercise is almost alwaysbetter than no exercise, and as long as you’re not hurting yourself, it doesn’t reallymatter how you exercise.

But just for the sake of being thorough, let’stake a look at the techniques.

There are three ways your feet can land onthe ground; this is known as foot-strike.

The first one he describes is heel-toe, betterknown as heel-striking.

Similar to how you walk, the heel hits theground first and you roll forward onto your toe before lifting off again.

Experience shows that this heel-to-toe footstrikeis the least tiring over long distances and the least wearing on the rest of the body.

About 70 percent of good long distance runnersuse this technique.

In a short time, with practice, you may findit the natural way to run.

I have a lot to say about this description, but let’s just follow along for now.

Next is the flat-foot technique or midfootstriking.

This is where the entire foot falls flat atthe same time, usually along the outer edge of the foot.

The wide surface area pillows the footstrikeand is easy on the rest of the body.

… About 20 percent of long distance runnersuse this technique.

Which leaves 10% for the Ball-of-the-Foottechnique, now known as forefoot-striking.

This is when you land on the front of yourfoot near your toes, and you settle down onto your heel before pushing off again.

Don’t be surprised if almost instinctivelyyou start with this method of footstrike, especially if you haven’t run since youryounger days.

More women than men start with the ball-of-the-foottechnique.

… This is probably because they are usedto high heels and find low heels unnatural.

Setting aside the casual sexism, if this isthe way I would instinctively run, why would I have to train myself out of it – withpractice – to run the more natural way? I’m also not sure where he got this 70%figure.

In almost every picture of people runningin the book, heel-strikers are the minority.

But he did say “good long distance runners”so let’s just pick one at random – I feel like I used to know who this was, but I’vehad a few concussions.

The point is, he’s not heel-striking.

So, why is Bowerman pushing this method sohard? To answer that, we need to look at the 1968Mexico City Olympics and look at a completely different sport – the high jump.

It’s a pretty straight-forward event – youset the bar at a certain height have all your competitors jump over it, anyone who doesn’tmake it is eliminated, then you raise the bar and repeat the cycle until only one personremains.

Like reverse limbo.

There are only so many ways you can run andjump over a bar though, and by the 50s, athletes had settled into one of two methods – astraddle technique, where you roll over the bar face down, and a scissor technique whereyou kick your legs over one at a time.

Oh yeah, scissor! But in 1968, Dick Fosbury ran up to the barand jumped over it backwards, winning the event and changing the sport forever.

So much so that not using that new techniquewas putting yourself at a disadvantage; every high jump record since then has used the FosburyFlop.

After the ‘68 Olympics, Bowerman decidedto see if running records could also be smashed by introducing a new technique.

A technique he was already experimenting with– heel-toe.

The problem is, when you run, you hit theground with up to three times your bodyweight worth of force, which would shatter your heel.

Without the right shoes anyway.

These are 1940s military-issue athletic shoes, they’re made of canvas, a gum rubber sole, and… not much else.

Some poor guy ran what must’ve been hundredsof miles in these things.

These are what most people wore back then, and if you tried to heel-strike in these, you’re going to have a bad time.

Luckily, Bowerman just invented the solution.

This is a modern production of the first runningshoe, it’s made out of what feels like baseball material, which means it doesn’t breathevery well, it’s also not a very flexible shoe.

But its key feature is this giant heel cushion– the first of its kind.

They wanted to call it the Aztec to commemoratethe Mexico City Olympics, but Adidas already had a shoe by that name, so… who beat theAztecs? I give you the Cortez… I know, mmkay.

This shoe hadn’t been invented when he wrotehis book and his business partner at Blue Ribbon was not happy about his footwear recommendations.

I was happy for him, but also for Blue Ribbon.

His best-seller would surely generate publicityand bump our sales.

Then I sat down and read the thing.

My stomach dropped.

In his discussion of proper equipment, Bowermangave some common sense advice, followed by some confounding recommendations.

… He said the right shoes were important, but almost any shoes would work.

‘Probably the shoes you wear for gardeningor working around the house will do just fine.

’ What?! After the invention of the running shoe, heel-strikingbecame the one and only way to jog.

Because now there was a shoe which made itpossible.

Basically, Bowerman invented a new swimmingstroke that would actually hurt you if you weren’t wearing these special gloves… Which he also happens to be selling.

Because jogging is not just slow running, it’s specifically the heel-toe technique, but since most people aren’t professionalathletes, running and jogging have become somewhat synonymous.

Professional athletes are runners, you’rejust a towel.

Every jogging manual since the invention ofthe Cortez, even those written by Lydiard, state that the heel-toe method is the recommendedway.

It is far better to roll the foot from heelto toe as a wheel is inclined to operate.

I can’t, I’m not, like dude.

I can’t do a New Zealand accent, man.

In the years after the ‘68 Olympics, BlueRibbon Sports decided to stop distributing Onitsuka Tigers and focus on their own products, rebranding themselves as Nike, after the Greek goddess Athena.

Nike struggled with numerous financial andcustoms issues, but their big break came in 1972 with their first celebrity endorsement– when an obscure shrimp billionaire and Medal of Honor recipient wore them duringhis famous cross-country ultramarathon.

Little known fact, what did he earn the Medalof Honor for? Running.

Mmkay so, it just occurred to me that thismovie is 26 years old, so there’s a decent chance some of you might not realize thatI’m joking.

Forrest Gump sadly isn’t a real person andwhile the movie implies that he started the jogging fad, the real credit goes to Bowerman’sbook.

And the real celebrity endorsement was fromSteve Prefontaine, who had just dominated the 1972 Tokyo Olympics wearing… Adidas? So, the endorsement happened after the Olympics, but that didn’t seem matter to people.

Bowerman never did any scientific studiesto see whether his shoe was actually better than the competition, because he didn’thave to.

Steve Prefontaine shattering records likea rock star was all the proof people needed.

He was basically the Michael Phelps of running, it was cool now and people started doing it by the millions, all over the world.

Now what’s this about, this jogging? What’s it all about? The idea is it’s an exercise which peoplecan take no matter what age they are, keep themselves fit.

It’s a well-balanced exercise, worked outby an Olympic games coach.

The Boston Marathon started in 1897, afterthe first modern Olympics in Greece.

Much like Pedestrianism, it started off asa spectator event, thousands of people would watch only a few dozen competitors.

It didn’t become an open event until thelate 1970s.

With all these new Americans getting interestedin running, many cities all over the country began organizing their own 5ks, 10ks, andmarathons.

The New York City Marathon began in 1970.

Initially, women weren’t allowed to participate, it was thought that running 26.

2 miles for 4-5 hours would result in torn reproductiveorgans.

Which was the same reason they weren’t allowedon trains in the 1800s.

The New York City Marathon first let womencompete in 1972, but only if they started 10 minutes before the men.

All six of them spent those ten minutes sittingon the starting line in protest.

Once women could compete head to head withmen over long distances, a weird trend started to develop.

Running is the most egalitarian sport.

Over short distances, men are faster, butthe further out you go, the less the stuff between your legs seems to matter.

When you get out to ultramarathon distancesof 50 or 100 miles, women regularly beat men.

Age is another interesting variable.

Both men and women are at their fastest aroundage 26, but 16-year-olds are just as fast a 60-year-olds.

Show me another sport where people nearingretirement have just as much of a chance of winning as high school students.

You can’t.

It’s almost like, as a species, we weremade for this.

There’s a popular theory that we evolvedas persistence hunters, because the one thing we have that other animals don’t is theability to sweat.

Which gives you way more endurance.

If you were to chase an antelope, it’s goingto run away, but it can’t keep that speed for very long and will eventually have tostop to catch its breath.

If you keep running after it, you’ll catchit in about thirty minutes.

If your little group of humans, made up ofmen, women, and the elderly, can keep pace together for just six miles, you’ll be ableto walk right up to it.

It’ll be completely exhausted.

That theory is backed up by all the data we’vebeen able to collect, thanks to the fact that everyone is allowed to compete.

Now we’re able to get really cool graphicslike this made.

Every runner in the New York City Marathonwears a tracker and is released from the starting line in waves… I could stare at this graphic all day.

But with all this new data, we started tonotice some disturbing trends as well.

Since the start of the New York City Marathon, the average American runner has gotten 20-30 minutes slower.

And that’s not because more amateur runnersare skewing the results, the New York and Boston marathons have qualification timesthat you have to beat to even apply.

These are America’s top runners and they’regetting slower.

Not only that, but they were getting injuredin ways that didn’t really happen before.

Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bursitis, the list goes on.

Nike looked at this data and said… So, we introduced this shoe and millions ofpeople started running… but now they’re getting slower and are getting injured moreoften? … Is it- no… What if- what if we added arch support? So, here’s your foot – sitting flat onthe ground.

And here’s a modern running shoe, it mightlook from the outside that it’s also flat on the ground, but when we look inside, andput a foot in it, we can see that the heel is raised.

We call this, rather confusingly, the heeldrop – for most average running shoes, the heel drop is 10 millimeters.

Your heel is 10 millimeters higher than yourtoe to allow for added cushioning so you can run heel-toe.

For reasons we’ll get to in a bit, thisputs strain on various muscles and tendons that wouldn’t normally be strained, so tofix that problem, they added arch support to fill in the gap between your foot and theshoe.

When this further immobilization didn’tsolve the problem, they experimented with air pockets, gel injections, and flashinglights in the heel.

For the record, Bill Bowerman thought airpockets were a dumb idea and they were.

Early models like the Tailwind would oftenrupture, rendering the shoes completely useless; even when they didn’t fall apart, they wereincredibly unstable.

As anyone who’s ever slept on an air mattresscan tell you.

They improved the design over time and eventually, the Nike Air became their flagship product line.

Especially the spin-off, the Air Jordans.

But not all of their innovations were justfor show, most every shoe until the 70s used this grooved pattern on the bottom of theirsoles.

Until Bowerman ruined his wife’s waffleiron.

Now every shoe looks like this, he figuredout that a grid pattern was better at gripping the artificial polyurethane track that hiscollegiate and Olympic athletes ran on.

Bowerman was only ever interested in makinghis racers faster under very specific conditions.

So, if I’m wearing his shoes, running onhis track, using his heel-toe technique… why am I still getting injured?! I’m not track a coach, I’m also not anOlympic athlete or even marathon runner, the most I’ve ever done is a half marathon, and as tempting as it is to do a Middle-Distance Runner’s Guide to the Lower Leg.

I figured I should ask someone.

What’s up? I’m Patrick, I do an anatomy channel calledCorporis and I used to work with injured runners in a sports medicine setting.

Running hurts and we have a lot of data toshow it.

Of the tens of millions of runners in theUS, about half of them will experience an injury this year and the majority of themare overuse injuries — not something like a broken bone or sprained ankle, but injuriesthat stack up over time.

Now, before we even think about shoes, thereare two things that by far and away predict injury more than anything: how much you runand whether or not you’ve had a previous injury.

Running injuries usually have multiple influences, so when exercise scientists try to isolate and study different factors like running formor a heel cushion, we can get conflicting evidence.

But how much you run and previous injurieskeep coming up as good predictors of injury.

So just like, keep that in mind.

Most of the research focused on arch support, not on heel strike and forefoot striking.

It seemed like giving somebody with low archessome arch support alleviated pain and helped prevent injuries.

So that’s where most of our data is up tothis point.

Now, In the last decade or so, researchershave finally started paying attention to the thick heel pads that Bowerman was recommendingback then.

So excuse the time paradox here, but the researchtook like 40 years to catch up.

When someone lands heel first, the rest oftheir foot pivots down, collapsing onto the ground.

As their body moves forward, all of theirmass is on top of the foot, then as the center of gravity moves forward, they toe off, andgo for the next step.

When someone lands forefoot first, they kindof tip toe into their step and their foot lands more slowly onto the ground.

Then their body moves over the foot, theystep forward and repeat.

And while this isn’t a hard and fast rule, there is some evidence that people will change how they run based on what kind of shoes they’rewearing.

So they tend to be heel strikers if they havethick shoes and tend to be forefoot strikers if they’re barefeet or have minimalist shoes.

But at some point, your skeleton needs toabsorb the force from the ground.

We call these forces ground reactive forces.

It’s that whole equal and opposite reactionthing: you’re landing with a certain force on the ground, the ground pushes back intoyour body.

When runners strike down with their heel, they see a big spike, a little dip, and another spike as the rest of their foot lands.

Then as they press off the ground, and ontothe other foot, total forces decrease.

Cushioned shoes change the curve a littlebit, but not much.

At their peak, the ground transferred abouttwo and half times their body weight in force up their legs.

When we measure this in forefoot strikers, they experience the same ground reactive force when their whole foot landed, but with a mellowerslope upwards.

So that initial contact was less forceful.

That’s because it takes advantage of howyour ankle joint and your calf are set up.

The foot itself is made up of long phalangeshere, metatarsals at your midfoot, tarsals which is this puzzle of bones here, and thecalcaneus, or heel bone.

There’s a shock-absorbing fat pad underit, but it’s not much.

Finally, your talus creates your ankle jointbetween the long bones of the shin — tibia and fibula.

Your gastrocnemius and soleus, or calf muscles, are your biggest ankle-moving muscles, so they’re able to withstand plenty of bodyweight.

They insert at the heel via the Achilles tendon, and they’re the main muscles involved when you land on your forefoot.

You have other, smaller ankle muscles startas small muscles close to the knee and narrow out into long tendons that wrap under yourfeet before they attach to a bone.

Not only is the calf bigger than them, italso has an advantage in leverage.

See, when you land on the forefoot, you createa lever.

There’s an axis at the ball of your foot, your body weight comes down over the midfoot, and your calf is creating a force way outon the end of the lever, providing a mechanical advantage in this situation.

Compared to the levers created by other jointsand muscles, the calf is the most efficient lever in our body.

So a forefoot striker is able to use theirstrong calf muscle to slow their body’s descent, and reduce that initial bump.

But when we look at heel strikers wearingshoes, we see a smaller initial impact than when they heel strike barefoot.

So did Bowerman’s design actually help then? Well, those graphs don’t tell the wholestory.

Because that force had to go somewhere.

When we look at the forces on individual joints, we see that heel strikers absorb more force in their hips and knees, while forefoot strikersabsorb more force in their calf and ankle.

Now, we still can’t say that heel strikingcauses injuries.

But we do see different types of injurieswhen we compare heel strikers to forefoot strikers.

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicinefrom 2016 surveyed barefoot runners and runners with shoes and found injuries that matchedtheir running style.

Heel strikers got more musculoskeletal injurieslike plantar fasciitis, glute and hamstring strains, and knee pain while barefoot runnersgot more injuries to the soles of their feet like blisters and cuts and overuse injuriesof some of the tendons like the peroneals, Achilles tendon, and tibialis posterior.

So it’s a tradeoff.

Maybe it’s something minor like a blisteror maybe it’s a musculoskeletal injury, but having pain is a sign that maybe you shouldn’tdo the thing.

If you run a lot, you’re gonna get hurt, but how would you like it to hurt? Pain isn’t weakness leaving the body – it’syour body telling you to stop doing something.

If you’re able to dampen the pain usingmedication or protective clothing, you’re going to keep doing it.

It’s the illusion of safety.

Helmets, pads, and cushions are great forprotecting your skin, and to a lesser extent your bones, but they don’t do much for softtissue.

Like joints, muscles, and tendons… or yourbrain.

Oddly enough, during the 70s and 80s, thefootball helmet underwent several changes to make them more safe.

Adding things like a hard shell and a facemask.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the safer thehelmet got, the more concussions players seemed to suffer, including dozens of microconcussionsthat are just as dangerous.

How did that happen? I posed this question on Twitter, how canwe reduce the number of concussions suffered by football players? And this answer really stuck out to me.

That is true, more people get concussionsfrom bicycle helmets.

But there’s a difference in purpose here.

Bike helmets are designed to protect you againstan accidental fall, football helmets are designed to be put on so you can run full speed intoa wall.

Actually, it’s not a wall, it’s anotherperson running full speed at you.

Whenever I see someone do a backflip intothe endzone and land on their head, the first reaction is usually “it’s a good thinghe was wearing a helmet.

” But, he probably wouldn’t have done thatif he wasn’t wearing one.

Dampening the pain with a helmet or cushiongives you the confidence to do things that will still hurt you… You just won’t immediately feel it.

So, while there are proposed rule changesthat might reduce the number of concussions, the real answer is probably to go back tothis.

There is no better helmet that has yet tobe invented that will somehow stop your brain from slamming into the inside of your skull.

It may be less fun to watch, but fewer peoplewill get hurt.

Oh yeah, we don’t want people getting hurtplaying football! But I have an idea that could make it evenbetter! Why don’t we have the players just wearbras?! I’m not really sure that’s the part ofthe body that needs protecting… Yeah and instead of helmets, they should wearlittle tinfoil hats because you know, it’s the future.

I mean that’s closer, I g- Who are you? You look familiar.

Well, you have had a few concussions… … Mmmkay… Luckily, football concussions only affecta small portion of the population… mostly kids, now that I think about it… maybe weshould do something about that.

But we can apply that same thinking to running.

Maybe these padded-heel running shoes arejust like football helmets.

They dampen the pain of doing something youshouldn’t be doing.

Maybe you shouldn’t be slamming the partof your body that is such a well-known weakspot that even demigods are felled by it into theground with upwards of 500 pounds of force.

Several thousand times.

We didn’t know this at the time, but runningseems to become more popular during times of national crisis.

Moral crises, not economic ones.

While the first boom was after Watergate, it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that after 9/11 there was another surge in 5k, 10k, andmarathon attendance.

This new generation of runners were immediatelymet with the same injuries.

Luckily, the world was smaller and more inter-connected, so while American runners were getting slower, international runners, like those from Kenya, were getting faster and had fewer injuries.

What were they doing differently? Much like Bowerman in the 60s, one guy thoughtthat maybe there was a better technique – a technique that many Kenyans were already doing.

This guy became known as “Barefoot Ted.

” He went to a company called Vibram, whichhad a line of sailing products that he wanted to try wearing for running.

They took a look at the modern running shoeand its giant heel cushion and IT’S GONE.

I present to you the Vibram FiveFingers, originallymade to grip the deck of a slippery yacht, Barefoot Ted successfully wore these duringan ultramarathon in the Copper Canyons of Mexico.

And they looked upon their creation and sawthat it was good.

I’m just kidding there were actually massiveproblems with these at first, they promoted them as a way to “reduce foot injuries, ”which if you’ve seen my MLM video, you know why they can’t make claims like that.

But the fault isn’t entirely with Vibram.

For the last 40 years, you’ve been toldthat heel-toe is the only way to run, you know you can’t do it barefoot without hurtingyourself, but for some reason you think these shoes will protect you.

These are forefoot-striking shoes.

If you’re going to go from wearing a cast, like this, to a glove, like this, you need to change your technique and you need to doit very, very slowly.

You’re going to be engaging muscles youhaven’t used in years – if ever.

Some people found that this new forefoot-strikingtechnique allowed them to run further and faster than they ever have – sparking theBarefoot Revolution.

But quick reminder, there’s nothing newabout this.

In the average running shoe, your heel sits10mm higher than your toes.

Minimalist shoes, like Vibram FiveFingers, typically have a heel drop of 5mm or less – with most of them being zero.

This means your heel and toe are level, whichallows the Achilles to fully extend, rather than being constantly relaxed, like in a normalrunning shoe.

Soon after that, several university trackteams, including Stanford, started to train barefoot or wear minimalist shoes; sensingthat they were about to lose their market-share, Nike introduced their own version.

The Nike Free – with a selection of heeldrops from zero to three to seven.

But a few years later, they went in the completelyopposite direction, introducing a maximalist shoe called the Vaporfly.

While a minimalist shoe has a heel drop ofzero and a normal running shoe has 10mm, depending on the specific model, the Vaporfly featuresa 15-20mm heel drop.

With the entire heel cushion measuring 40mmor an inch and a half.

The Olympics banned these shoes because theygave runners an unfair advantage.

But Nike is a huge multinational corporationwith a lot of lawyers.

After a few years of negotiating, the Olympicsdecided that these shoes are the new bar – no new shoe can have more than 40mm of heel cushion.

I hope this is obvious, but these are undeniablyheel-striking shoes.

They have really complicated names like theNike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% or the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit.

The 4% meaning they improve your running efficiencyby 4%.

If you were trying to sell me car tires thatincreased my gas mileage by 4%, I probably won’t even bother.

But I’m not trying to break records, where4% would matter.

Six months ago, Eliud Kipchoge and his entireteam wore slightly different models of the Vaporfly when they ran a marathon in justunder 2 hours.

A time barrier previously thought unbreakable.

They didn’t consider it a new record thoughbecause of all the help he got – these were basically laboratory conditions.

But still, now we know it’s at least possible.

What strikes me most about watching them run, is that even though they’re wearing a shoe specifically designed for heel striking, nota single person on the team is doing that.

They’re all forefoot-strikers.

Even when a foot fall looks like it’s mostlyflat, you have to remember that they’re wearing 1.

5inch heels – so they’re alwaysup on their toes.

Why aren’t they using these shoes as intended? Maybe it’s because forefoot-striking isthe least jarring way to run, as Patrick described.

Or maybe it’s because the shoes didn’tactually matter at all – as evidenced by the fact that he once ran a 2:04 marathonin shoes that were literally falling apart.

And maybe Nike didn’t want to miss out ona marketing opportunity.

In any case, he’s a professional athletewith hundreds of people making sure he’s on pace, monitoring his diet and hydration, and helping him figure out exactly how his foot should land every single time.

You’re not him, you’re just a towel.

When you go into a shoe store, they’re mostlikely going to give you a shoe based on the shape or form of your foot, meaning the sizeand whether or not you have high arches.

When they should be fitting shoes based onthe function of your foot.

A decade or two ago, if you went into a specialtyrunning store, the only function they’d ask about was whether you over-pronate orsupinate.

They wouldn’t actually watch you run, they’djust ask you.

And then put you in some corrective shoesthat don’t actually fix the problem, they just let you keep running in your messed-upgait without any pain.

Nowadays, the important distinction is whetheryou prefer to heel-strike or forefoot-strike and you need to have the right shoe to matchyour technique.

And just like swimming strokes, you can changeif you want to.

I want to make this clear – do not changeyour technique because of me, do not change your shoes because of me.

I don’t currently wear any of the shoesI’ve talked about in this video.

So, if you’re running without issue, keepdoing what you’re doing.

Running is just plain good for you, not onlyfor your physical health, but your mental health.

You may notice that the more you run, themore everything else in your life just sort of falls into place.

Your confidence increases, your diet changes, you sleep better, you’re more fun between the sheets, the list goes on.

I would rather you ran in anything than notrun at all.

But if you’re like me and running was alwaysyour weakness, to the point that you barely passed the Army PFT with seconds left on theclock… Maybe its your technique? When I switched to forefoot striking, I wentfrom dreading any run of any distance to regularly winning my age group in all the races I did.

Here’s a Veteran’s Day 5k, here’s a… … It’s okay, it was 2009, people werereally stoked on him back then.

Wait… now I remember you.

Oh yeah, now you member? Yeah, I saw you after going to curiositystream.


CuriosityStream is a subscription streamingservice that offers thousands of documentaries and non-fiction titles from some of the world’sbest filmmakers that you can access across multiple platforms.

By signing up using curiositystream.

com/knowingbetterand using the promocode “knowingbetter”, you’ll also get access to Nebula, the newstreaming service built by fellow youtubers to create videos without worrying about havingproper arch support.

Memba South Park? I memba, and you can memba too by checkingout my episode of Working Titles.

A series hosted by a different creator eachweek, talking about their favorite TV show opening credits.

I’ve been working on this side project fora while and it should be coming out soon.

Check it out on Nebula by also signing upfor CuriosityStream, when you use the code knowingbetter at checkout, you’ll get thefirst month for free, you’ll also be supporting the channel when you do.

Bowerman invented a new technique for runningthat he thought would be more efficient, but would injure you without the proper shoes, so he invented them.

But the injuries continued, and people gotslower.

So, he introduced all kinds of supplementalsupports to fill in the gaps and protect areas that were left exposed by his original idea.

Which just made the problem worse.

They even make socks with arch support now… Yeah, I bought them.

I know they don’t actually do anything, mmkay! It wasn’t until a second generation of runnerscame around that people started to ask whether arch supports and gel inserts were actuallynecessary.

After looking at how other countries did things, they realized they weren’t.

It hadn’t always been this way, a few peoplein 1972 just decided that this how running shoes should be made.

And we’ve been dealing with that one decisionever since.

To hold onto their market share in the faceof the Barefoot Revolution, Nike introduced all sorts of options at different tiers ofheel drop for you to choose from, from minimalist to maximalist.

It’s on you to make an informed decisionas to which is right for you.

With it being a new decade and with peopletrying to find ways to stay fit outside of the gym, maybe it’s time for a third runningboom? Only this time, focus on your technique.

Even with large gatherings canceled for awhile, virtual 5ks and 10ks are now a thing.

So put your shoes on – whatever shoes you’recomfortable in – and let’s go, because now, you-Actually, before you finish you should probably let everyone know that you don’t think anyoneyou talked about in this video is a bad person, Bowerman, Lydiard, Nike, Vibram, they wereall just trying to help people get healthy.

And not everyone can run, mmkay.

Do whatever exercise you find fulfilling, stop being such an ableist, because now, you know better.

… He… he took mer jerb! I’m officially streaming on Twitch now, so if you’d like to see me play games and stuff, head over to twitch.


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