Foot Fetish part 2

Topic: Myths about barefoot running

Intended audience: Runners

Essay Map: Educating yourself about the facts of running barefoot (if that’s your goal), will allow you to safely transition from thicker soled running shoes.

I’m back with part 2 of Foot Fetish. In the first post, we went over the a few perceptions on barefoot running like how it leads to stress fractures, and how if you have flat feet, you’ll need support. In part 2 we will look at weight, and knee issues.

Once again, you’ll be reading direct quotes from Nicholas A. Campitelli, DPM, FACFAS. I will place my views, and opinions in underlined italics with my initials AH.

“Barefoot running, minimalist running and natural running are all terms that describe running in a manner that allows our foot to function the way it was designed (or has evolved). This happens through the use of little or no shoe at all. Many runners suffering from chronic injuries are adopting this way of running and are experiencing relief of symptoms to find themselves running with enjoyment and a more relaxing form.”

The key word is many not all. AH

I too have been cured of a running injury, which I suffered from for over eight years after transitioning my gait to that of a “barefoot” runner. Without further ado, here are the 10 myths of barefoot running.”

 

Cured is a provocative word to use, as it might lead readers to assume barefoot running will cure them as it did the author. As a DPM I’ll guess that he might have started some sort of regimen to help in his ”curing” i.e. flexibility, mobility, and/or strengthening exercises He also could have added a warm up ”movement prep” and “cool down” to his routine. AH

 

I weigh too much. While this is a common excuse to not run, being overweight is not reason enough not to run barefoot or in a minimalist shoe. In 2010, Leiberman and co-workers were able to demonstrate that habitually unshod runners were able to generate smaller collision forces than shod heel strikers.6 In other words, by forefoot striking, we decrease the force that transmits through the lower extremity, thereby reducing torque forces to the ankle, knee and hip joints.7 Clearly, we can see that if people weigh 250 lbs., they would be placing more force through their joints by heel striking then by landing on their forefoot”.

I agree that you can decrease the force transmitted through the body by changing your strike, however I believe the writer is overlooking a critical component. If someone is overweight, odds are they have not been exercising regularly, could be sedentary, but most importantly not conditioned to start a running program. When I say unconditioned, that could mean that the individual might not have the cardiovascular endurance of more importantly the muscles, and connective tissues of the body lack the strength and endurance to handle any type of force transmitted through the body. AH.

Would Bad Knees Inhibit Barefoot Running?

“I have bad knees. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common concern among many runners, especially older individuals who have run the majority of their lives. There are many theories as to why running is bad or even good for your knees. So many in fact that elliptical machines were invented to be used as a form of exercise similar to running without causing excess pressure to the joints.8 However, these elliptical machines do not reproduce anatomical motions and an in vivo force analysis reveals there is less force with walking than with an elliptical trainer”.9-11

You can’t out run time, age will eventual catch us all, and osteoarthritis is an age related condition. I have not read the study on elliptical machines versus walking, however from personal experience, both are less stressful to my body than running and the elliptical machine can get me to train all my cardio zones better than walking. What I would suggest though is that you may want to talk with your doctor in regards to supplementation like joint support. As a personal trainer what I would recommend if you haven’t yet, is to start a mobility/flexibility and strength program. I would emphasize the ankles and hips, because allowing full ROM in those respective areas could take some of the workload (force transmission) away from the knee, and transmit it throughout the rest of the body like we are designed to do. AH.

 

“As I noted previously, we know that ground reactive forces are greater with heel strike in comparison to unshod or barefoot runners who adapt a more forefoot strike pattern.6 Numerous studies have demonstrated higher ground reactive forces and mechanical stresses to the knee while running in traditional running shoes as opposed to barefoot.12-13 A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at patients with knee osteoarthritis over 12 months and found no difference between wearing a lateral wedge orthotic versus a control flat insert.14 Similarly, a systematic review of literature demonstrates that external knee adduction moment and pain associated with knee osteoarthritis is higher in individuals wearing sneakers in comparison to those who do barefoot walking”.15

 

When I complete the 10 Myths of barefoot Running, I will post all of Nicholas’s bibliography for referencing.

 

Reference:

Campitelli A. Nicholas (2012 January) Tackling the 10 Myths of Barefoot Running. Podiatry Today Volume 25 Issue1.

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