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Is barefoot running a good thing?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Admin, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

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    Humans were created to run barefoot in order to survive We had to move camps and hunt for our food. Because concrete was invented, we needed another invention – that thing called a running shoe.

    Those who advocate running barefoot can be divided into two camps:

    1) Those that do it in moderation as part of a balanced running training program
    2) Those that use it as a philosophy that underpins their running.

    To quote this on Barefoot Running:
    Podiatry Arena has had a number of discussions on the merits of Barefoot Running.

    There is also this anti-barefoot running website that deconstructs a lot of teh argumanets made for barefoot running.
  2. bluedozzer

    bluedozzer New Member

    Beneficial or not I would just love to feel the ground beneath my feet without paying for it in pain.
  3. ordinaryfeets

    ordinaryfeets New Member

    I suppose everyone is different. My husband is getting into running and tried the barefoot running thing. We also both bought Vibram Five Finger shoes (touted as the "next best thing" to barefoot). My husband really like the philosophy and read all about it. He became obsessed with running form and trying to get his just right. But he kept getting injured, or reinjuring the same thing, until he finally gave up and did the unthinkable: bought thick soled running shoes. And that pretty much solved his problem.

    For my part, I bought a pair of Vibram's as well but I don't run, I wanted them for hiking. Using them on pavement just doesn't seem natural to me, but some people say they are fine with it. They are nice for hiking, but after a three or four miles on a dirt path, my heels begin to hurt, though I am careful not to "heel strike". I like them though. I like the feeling of my toes being separated in the shoes, because my two smallest toes tend to get crammed up and curl under a bit in many shoes.
  4. drsilver

    drsilver New Member

    Since the NY Times article on barefoot running I've seen 5 people with stress fractures from running in the Vibram shoes. Stress fractures occur from repetitive forces on the metatarsal bones (bones behind the toes). They occur kind of like you break a paper clip with applying forces over and over until they break.

    Another patient came in after banging his great toe on a large rock running in central park. He litterally ripped off his great toe nail and was bleeding.

    As a podiatrist, I highly discourage my patients from running barefoot.

    Lawrence Silverberg, DPM
  5. TOG Orthotics

    TOG Orthotics New Member

    As they say, you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. :D I'd say at best on the right surfaces running barefoot might be acceptable, but even in poorer countries where going barefoot can be the norm in some locations, it takes a lifetime to build up the neccessary natural equipment to make barefoot a first choice.
  6. kmcmichael

    kmcmichael New Member

    I am in the latter camp. I don't really care about the research. Research is somewhat like gov statistics. It is easy to manipulate. I have a friend that broke his foot with the five fingers.

    I have had a very good experience running barefoot. I could not run a half mile in my running shoes without my knee locking up. I could not manage any sort of pace at all and not be out of breath. I quit running for a few months.

    I was on vacation. My wife was sleeping late. I was in the exercise room in my flip flops. I got on the tread mill barefoot. It was quite the revelation. When I got home I read a little about it and started running barefoot. Within a month I was running five miles a day with no problems. At about a 12 minute pace. I am 52 and not in great shape. I am however a fair weather runner and cannot stand to be cold in the least. I stopped for the winter but plan to start again when it warms up.

    This is just my experience.

    The negative side is that my feet seemed to change(toe spread) and I cannot stand my shoes.
  7. TOG Orthotics

    TOG Orthotics New Member

    Yes, it really can be a lifestyle issue.
  8. kmcmichael

    kmcmichael New Member

    I don't think it takes a lifetime. I think that it is pretty much up to the individual. My main goal is comfort. Obviously I am not going to run in the cold or surfaces that become painful.

    I am considering the purchase of some custom boots due to wider feet and getting a black toenail from my hunting boots. That could be from going barefoot so much.

    I do plan to see a doctor soon regarding this.
  9. TOG Orthotics

    TOG Orthotics New Member

    That really is usually a safe course of action!
  10. fhesr

    fhesr New Member

    It amazes me that most here, especially those in the health professions, who have never had significant time running barefoot are so critical of it. If you are going to offer an opinion at least go out and try it for a few weeks or months, otherwise it's best to say nothing.
  11. tuzi

    tuzi New Member

    Running barefoot strengthens muscles in your feet that normally are neglected with shoes because of the ways shoes are structured. It also strengthens your calves. So yes, it is good for you.

    However, you want to be careful. Running barefoot means you have no support from your shoes, and it's easy to get injured from all the pounding. It's much easier to get shin splints.

    Never never run barefoot on pavement. Sand is the best, turf and grass are fine. The more give to the surface you're running on, the better it is for your feet and the more it will strengthen your legs.

    You might be interested in vibram five finger shoes. They're a flexible rubber shoe thing for barefoot running. Just run a search for them and you'll find them.
  12. Runnerd

    Runnerd New Member

    While I do understand the general argument for barefoot running, I don't think there's much that's natural about running on concrete. It would be nice to run on trails or grass, but that's pretty hard to do consistently in most urban areas.

    If there's one thing we can truly take away from the barefoot running movement, it is that runners should try to run on softer terrain whenever possible. Even our extra cushy running shoes wear out quickly after exposure to routine pounding on asphalt.

    I certainly wouldn't recommend going barefoot without some soil underfoot and even then take it slow... otherwise sounds like the fast track to a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, you name it.

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