Delivering a critique of modern footwear and defense of a barefoot, or nearly barefoot lifestyle, Nick Quarrier, clinical associate professor, spoke to a crowd of more than 85 as part of the National Physical Therapy Month speaker series.
Quarrier gave his presentation “Barefoot Running! Is it just a popular fad?” at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 in Room 211 of the Center for Health Sciences.
Quarrier presented evidence from articles and scientific studies on the benefits of landing on the forefoot instead of the heel.
Graduate student Steve Wechsler said he told Quarrier about the New York Times Best-Seller, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.
After reading the book, which is about a tribe of Mexican Indian ultra marathoners who disputed the benefits of modern running shoes, Quarrier said began to reverse his views on shoes and their use.
“Right after I read it, I thought what have I been teaching all these years, teaching the wrong thing,” Quarrier said.
Weschler said he asked Quarrier about the issues the book raised in class, as it had sparked his interest.
“I asked [Quarrier] if he could enlighten me on the subject and he didn’t really know that much at that point, but he said he would follow up on it, and then he came in every class with more and more information on it,” Weschler said.
Quarrier began to gather research on the effects of shoes compared to barefoot running or running with shoes without raised heels, minimal cushioning or arch support.
He said he has become increasingly convinced of the benefits of shoes without any of the benefits of modern technology.
“It has been difficult for me,” he said. “I’ve been an advocate on the other side of the fence, saying ‘you need to wear a cushioned shoe.’”
Quarrier also stressed that transitioning out of cushioned shoes is not an overnight miracle cure.
Graduate student Jon Lin, who has had a history of foot problems, attended the lecture to hear about the different ideas on proper footwear.
“I thought it was pretty interesting,” Lin said. “I don’t know if I’m sold on it yet but it was good to come and see what they’re talking about.”