I’m on a foot fetish these days. Don’t tell my family.
Today’s foot based installment is about perception vs. reality. It’s about how your mind is constantly playing tricks on you even when you’re doing your best to be truthful. It’s about how your brain is letting your feet lie to you, and your boots are in on the whole conspiracy.
I have a pretty astounding study that I want to talk about.
Let’s start with runners way back in the 1980s.
You might want to throw those things in the trash
Mo’ padding mo’ problems
Remember that rickshaw driver I was talking about here?
Well, that dude had no feet problems, and he was slapping his feet onto hard and hot concrete and rocks every day of his life.
It seems according to two researchers back in 1991:
“The increased injury incidence with modern running shoes can be attributed to greater impact when runners use footwear more of the current design when compared with footwear in use a decade earlier. Furthermore, when runners unaccustomed to barefoot running run barefoot, mean impact is no higher than when shod and in some cases is lower.”
In normal people terms:
Comfy shoes = foot problems.
No shoes = Highly profitable career as a rickshaw driver.
These feet look all too familiar.
Padding makes you treat your feet like sh!t
Comfy shoe padding makes us blissfully unaware of the damage we are causing. Kind of like how we thought trans fats were a great idea. It turns out they are causally linked to heart disease.
We aren’t always right. Our prior assumptions need to be evaluated, not blindly accepted for millennia.
Robbins and Gouw, those two guys from the above quote, came to the conclusion that: “…a perceptual illusion is created whereby perceived impact is lower than actual impact, which results in inadequate impact moderating behavior and consequent injury.”
Let’s get into a pretty eye-opening study they did that proves the above point.
Yeah, gymnasts know how to stick a landing.
(Photo by Eugene Lim on Unsplash)
Comfort based decisions
When was the last time you made a comfort-based decision? Hit that snooze button this morning? Had a hot shower? Chose to drive to work rather than walk/run/bike?
Those are some decisions you can control. What about this trippy one you aren’t even aware of?
Robbins and Gouw took some force plates and had well-trained gymnasts jump onto them from a platform about 2 feet off the ground.
The plates measured the impact force of the athletes landing.
The gymnasts, who are great at sticking landings, were told to just land however they would naturally land after a jump from that height.
There were two surfaces they jumped onto for the force plates to measure; a hard surface, and a comfy padded surface.
In ALL 15 athletes, the landing force on the padded surface was higher than the landing force on the hard surface. The athletes clearly choose a safer and more appropriate landing strategy for the hard surface than the padded surface.
The real kicker is that that they all assumed that they were landing with more force on the hard surface than the padded surface.
Yep…the padding of the padded surface completely tricked all the athletes into being more careless with their bodies.
The perception of comfort and its damaging effects were studied using experienced athletes and force plate technology.
The difference in impacts was upwards of 25%. That the difference between you jumping by yourself and then jumping with your overweight nephew strapped to your chest in a papoose. Go ahead and give that experiment a try to see the real difference between the two.
Even a 5% increase in weight makes some people crumble, 25% is nothing to shrug at.
(Photo by Steven Cleghorn on Unsplash)
What we should tolerate VS what we tolerate
We are able to handle nearly twice our body weight in running impact. That seems like a lot. So we should have zero problem running right?
Nope.When we run with standard running shoes or boots on, impacts of well past eight times our body weight have been measured. Combine this high level of impact with the design of the modern combat boot like we talked about here, and you get a whole host of foot and other structural issues that are commonly seen in service members, veterans, and high mileage athletes. I’m talking about hip, knee, ankle, and back issues, not to even mention that fact that your feet are taking the brunt of the abuse.
Is this the future military boot or should we just go barefoot?
Take ’em off and walk around
Lucky for Marines, it seems that the Generals in charge are making strides (pun intended) to remedy this issue to save the Marine Corps money and you a life of constant chronic pain.
The solution seems to be minimalist footwear. The less padding your footwear has, the easier it will be for you to regulate the impact you are causing on your feet.
Over time, your issues should disappear just like the rickshaw driver disappeared into antiquity after Henry Ford created the modern assembly-line built automobile to subvert his father-in-law, a world-famous rickshaw driver. (Everyone has family issues)…
Looking for a solution to your family issues? How about your training issues? Here’s how to train super effectively three times a week in less than an hour.