As our brain expanded in evolution, we became more and more adaptable. Social structure became more complex, cultural and symbolic phenomena began and refined communication became possible.
We developed many types of adaptability: physical, spiritual, cultural and emotional adaptability are among the hallmarks of human evolution. To say that we have evolved to run in one way, and that way must be that we should always land on our forefoot in shoes dictated by any authority is absurd. But the discussion that has taken place in the past few years demonstrates the impact of culture and society on thought and how memes are generated and circulate in traditional and new media.
To say that evolution has mandated that we are designed to wear no shoes or minimal shoes would have precluded our explorations of much of our own planet, let alone our exploration of the moon’s surface. And the movie Gravity just wouldn’t look right with Sandra Bullock wearing a white suit with no shoes while floating around in space.
Have our minds evolved faster than our bodies? Does peer pressure play a major role in our social development? Are we justified in wearing shoes in hostile environments or during particular sports activity? Or should we all take feet as a special evolutionary case in that they are meant to be set free from the encumbrance of all shoes?
Do some intelligent people cherry pick literature for one reason or another and are they knowingly intellectually dishonest? It is possible that some may not even be totally aware of what and why they are taking a particular approach on this topic. A recent study reported in Nature demonstrated that social ideas on climate change are influenced at the subconscious level by those around you. The media can have a tremendous impact. The trend in which the new needs to be continuously highlighted (and yes the new is often good, but not everything new is going to work well or last long – or we wouldn’t need to see so many new shoes every year. ) to the point where what has recently been new and highly touted is suddenly set upon and put down.
Should someone not agreeing with our particular choice engender hate, disrespect and a virtual piling on? That seems to perhaps be a hallmark of humanness but not humaneness. Historically and culturally we often seek the similar and the like and avoid or abhor the different. When cultures merge and converge though, some of the differences no longer matter. Often, those outside of the mainstream or lagging behind the trend line are disparaged. Sometimes quite strongly disparaged. It is clear in politics and global affairs that unfortunately this often guides our approach to life and society.
For the runners among us, I’ve emphasized that we are all runners. That is our commonality and what should bond us together. Politics, shoes, feet, none of that really matters and there is room for all kinds of runners among the running community. There are sprinters, milers, marathoners and ultra-marathoners. There are barefoot runners, minimalist shoe runners, runners in structured cushioned shoes, runners in neutral shoes, and runners who run comfortably in motion control shoes ( a few anyway, but not a good choice for most people). We all run or if we are injured or otherwise unable to run, we all think about running. My belief about shoes is that you should run in what is comfortable and works for you. A recent book on evolution and running insists, in spite of an absence of evidence that comfort is a bad indicator of success. However Benno Nigg and others have done research that indicated that comfort was a relatively good predictor of fewer injuries among military recruits. With all of the research that has been done we still have essentially no studies that tell us how to avoid running injuries. One budding guru said on a national television program “throw away your high tech running shoes and you will never have another running injury”. Unfortunately, that was patently false and misleading. There are a number of new studies showing injury trends with different shoes – the first study which comes to mind is one that concluded a recommendation to wear a motion control shoe just based on a low arch foot type does not work well and seems to lead to more injuries than the choice of another shoe type.
George Sheehan said that “we are all an experiment of one.” We do have to discover what works well for us as individuals and follow that path. There is much to read on the Internet that can be helpful, but the correct answer for one individual may be hard to find. Sometimes guidance and the advice of a professional is helpful when one of us becomes injured, or has repeated injuries.
One thing is certain: everything goes better with exercise. We all are built to move. In fact evolution has led us to be in dire need of movement and evolution.
So now that we have arrived at another end of year holiday season, it is a good time for both reflection and movement. Plan your approach to the next year of exercise. Work on tolerance – improve your tolerance to endurance exercise, strength training and speed workouts. Improve your tolerance to your fellow runners and human beings. Work on being humane in addition to being human.That you’ll find is the hardest type of tolerance to develop.
But that animal in us does need exercise even during the holidays. How else will you work off those large meals and party foods and drinks?