Asking why Barefoot runners love the Paleo diet is like asking why Couch potatoes love the SAD diet.
If someone is able to ignore the constant thrum of the "conventional wisdom" with regards to footwear ("arch support", "motion control", "shock absorbing"), such a person is similarly likely to ignore the conventional dietary recommendations ("whole grains are good for your heart", "low-fat dairy for calcium", "beans are a great source of fiber", "cholesterol/fat is bad") as well.
A nagging knee problem (), and the fact that other trainers at my old gym were wearing them over 5 years ago, turned me on to Vibrams. The fact that my knee feels great and I can run, jump, and do all sorts of things that used to leave me in agony is proof enough. Of course their are plenty of biomechanical and science heavy justifications for going (nearly) barefoot, but, just like with the paleo diet, it simply makes sense that millions of years of trial and error (nature) is a better footwear engineer than Nike and a better source of nutritional wisdom than the USDA.
I'm proud to rock my Vibram five fingers in all sorts of situations (at work, while working out, on vacation, etc.) and I have tons of great conversations with people about them. Usually, people are a little more open to the idea that "arch-support" is typically unnecessary and potentially harmful (there are exceptions of course as some peoples feet are too far gone from terrible footwear, you can see some pictures of this on my blog) than they are to the idea that eating carbs is unnecessary, but it's a great start!
I did an interview some time ago with a really cool guy named Steve Sashen (you can check it out here). He is the owner of Invisibleshoe.com, a company that makes huaraches, the traditional running sandal of the ultramarathoning Tarahumara tribe, and what he said about the process of going (mostly) barefoot parallels my beliefs about paleo diet...
"Once you start paying attention to your body it becomes a very different thing; it’s a whole new relationship that is exciting and hopeful.”
For me is was Paleo -> Barefoot, but I think the same premise applies. I believe that they both come from wanting to get back to nature, realizing that that the modern ways have harmed us, made us soft, and that the conventional wisdom is actually wrong and doing things at least in the spirit of the way they were done thousands of years ago is the proper way. Also, I think barefoot runners, being runners and therefore athletic, if not actual athletes, care more about and are more in tune with their diet than normal people.
Because both are about ditching convention in search of radical transformation and increased vibrancy of life. I got into them both about the same time and the paleo came from a seeking of best health, and the barefoot came because I started to feel more like an animal as a result of my diet.
My journey was P90x -> Fivefingers -> Marks Daily Apple -> paleo -> WAPF. And I love them all :) I got on a forum for P90x and saw a few references to fivefingers and started checking it out. I started checking birthdayshoes.com pretty regularly and it wasn't long before they posted a pic of someone in a "grok on" shirt, with a brief mention of the primal blueprint. I starting following MDA, and that led me to find paleo and WAPF. All of these things have led me to so many new great things.
They all have one thing in common like wheelhouse said above: getting back to the way things used to be done, and should be done. I love to be in tune with what is real and natural. I don't wear my fivefingers all the time, because I am a shoeaholic- probably 50+ pairs- but it is the only thing I wear for walking, running and any type of exercise. I don't own a pair of tennis shoes :)
I went barefoot --> MovNat --> Paleo. It just seemed the natural progression. (And since, I've progressed on to sleeping on the floor and no soap/no 'poo). A lot of it is questioning all this "stuff" that the media and society and Western culture says we "need" to be a woman, to be human, to be comfortable, to be something or other. Guess what? We don't need it. People get by just fine without shoes, without Twinkies or Pringles. Heck, people even get by just fine without a car or running water or electricity.
At least now I am choosing those things that I want to use in my life because they are useful tools for me, rather than necessities. So, if I don't have them, I can survive without. Power goes out? I'm okay. Can't find decent food? Yippee an opportunity to IF! Forgot my shoes? I'll go barefoot, thanks.
I'm not sure that they all do. I recently read "Born to Run" - one of the most famous texts of the "barefoot" movement and the author advocates a low-to-no meat diet mostly composed of corn and beans as a perfect diet for distance running. The place where I can definitely say they all intersect is in some kind of "Real Food" movement based on eliminating processed modern foods like sugar and white bread. I think we can all get behind that, regardless of our macronutrient squabbles.
Quite simply, they both work and make a positive difference in one's life! I've been using invisible shoes for about 4 months now for both running and walking. Invisible shoes are a very thin thong-type sandal that is the closest thing to being barefoot. It did take me about 2 months or so to really get comfortable with them, but now I don't know what I'd do without them. With paleo, I noticed positive effects almost immediately, I lost about 5-10 pounds without trying and my digestion is much better. I also exercise regularly so that factors in with dropping some pounds also.
I was a barefoot runner that turned Paleo. It all started with Mark's Daily Apple then Robb Wolf then just about everyone else who's ever talked or written about paleo. Once I realized that running shoes with 2 inch soles were ruining my body and not only did I feel better but perform better with minimalist shoes, it opened the flood gates. I've always had an interest in evolution and biology but it wasn't until about a year ago when I really started thinking about how we evolved to move and eat and it all just makes sense. Realizing that 99% of the standard running shoes out there are ruining people's bodies instead of making them better very closely mimics what's going on with the government's Standard American Diet and diseases of civilization. It's hard to quantitate but barefoot runners tend to think outside the box, run on trails and in nature to avoid hard surfaces and have more respect for the earth. With that comes a desire to live more naturally and in so doing, avoiding processed crap and emphasizing real food.
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