Foot Fetish Part 3
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 3 of Foot Fetish. In the second post, we went over two reasons why barefoot running could be detrimental to people who are overweight, or have bad knees. In part 3 we will look at orthotics and plantar fasciitis.
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
How Do Orthotics And Plantar Fasciitis Come Into Play With Barefoot Running?
I can’t do barefoot running because I need to wear my orthotics. Orthotics has become more over-utilized in the practice of podiatry then ever before. It is very common for me to see runners present in my office with plantar fasciitis, a normal arch, cushioned running shoes and orthotics they have worn. When running barefoot or in a minimalist shoe, we do not need to control motion at the rear-foot because heel striking is not occurring and “excessive pronation,” as described by Root, does not occur. While we have numerous studies that do not support the use of orthotics for running injuries alone, it becomes a challenge to convince the patient they are not needed.
I have plantar fasciitis so barefoot running would be too painful. This article was not intended to discuss the pathomechanics or treatment options of plantar fasciitis. However, we are anecdotally seeing resolution of symptoms in those who adopt this style of running. One potential explanation is the development in strength we see to the intrinsic musculature, specifically the abductor hallucis muscle, which is a primary supporter of the arch.
Another overlooked phenomenon is the fact that the majority of running shoes place your ankle into plantar-flexion. This forces the body to compensate by increasing lumbar lordosis and increasing pressure to the heel as opposed to having more even distribution throughout the foot.
As a Fitness Professional, I am faced with these two obstacles all the time. What can I do? Well, I can’t diagnose, as that’s not in a Fitness Professionals scope of practice. I will not challenge or criticize the clients Dr. or who ever prescribed the orthotics. If the client chose their treatment on their own I would not criticize them either. All that would do if create a wall and devalue us as professions, not to mention coming off appearing like a know it all, and we all know those are the ones that really don’t know anything at all.
I would instead offer other options, modalities of exercise if you will, self-myofascial release with a tennis ball (soft) and slowly progress to a baseball (medium), then a golf ball (hard). Vibration training i.e. Power Plate would be a good way to “melt” the connective tissues beneath our feet (hydrating), while at the same time, triggering muscle contractions in the foot, which would strengthen the foot. This would improve our natural arch support and likely reduce plantar fasciitis. If you work with the client as a “guide on the side” versus ordering your clients “sage on the stage” you’ll empower them, which will make them more open to various methods of exercises, some of which might be the “one’ that finally helps your client overcome their discomfort. AH