Barefoot Is Better

I am engrossed in an awesome book and thought I would share some information from it. The book is called Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Ever Seen; written by Christopher McDougall. I highly recommend you check it out if you are a runner—or just happen to be looking for a good read.

I’m not a runner myself, but my husband and so many of my clients are; most of them experiencing—or have experienced—one or more problems associated with the sport. Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, hip pain, hamstring pulls, shin splints, etc. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, please keep reading this post!

Ever since I went to massage school in ’06, I have firmly believed that running shoes have way too much cushioning and are way too technical; all of this causing, in my opinion, compensation issues, in addition to weakening the muscles in our feet. While reading the book, I was pleased when I found out that Vin Lananna, Stanford University’s head running coach, basically felt the same way. In fact, he apparently had his track team run barefoot during their practices, despite the fact that Nike sponsored them. During practice in April of 2001, Nike reps asked why they were “bare-footing” and Coach Lananna’s response was (p. 169-170), “I can’t prove this, but I believe when my runners train barefoot, they run faster and suffer fewer injuries…. We’ve shielded our feet from their natural position by providing more and more support… People went thousands of years without shoes… I think you try to do all these corrective things with shoes and you overcompensate… You fix things that done’t need fixing… If you strengthen the foot by going barefoot, I think you reduce the risk of Achilles and knee and plantar fascia problems.” Interesting, huh?

Here are some links to research that was also quoted in the book…

British Journal of Sports Medicine – Dr. Craig Richards revealed that there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate that running shoes make you less prone to injury.

The American Journal of Sports Medicine – Dr. Bernard Marti’s study found that runners in shoes that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less that $40.

Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physcial Therapy – Dr. Barry Bates gathered data that suggested that beat-up running shoes are safer than newer ones. He and his colleagues reported that as shoes wore down and their cushioning thinned, runners gain more foot control.

Here are a few other links you might find interesting:

Barefoot Ted
Tarahumara people
Barefoot Ken Bob
Caballo Blanco
Scott Jurek

Well, I don’t want to give the whole book away, so why don’t you pick one up for yourself. If you’re a runner and suffer injuries as a result, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as my husband and I did.

On a side note, we just got some VIBRAM Fivefinger shoes. My husband LOVES them and I can’t wait to try them out! Here is their step-by-step guide if you’re interested in having a look-see.

7/30/12 UPDATE: Sparing the details, I just wanted to quickly mention that since I wrote this post, we have had a bad, unfortunate, and unacceptable experience with VIBRAM’s customer service department… And would highly recommend that you not deal with this company. There are other brands of this type of shoe out there and hopefully I will finally get into a pair from one of them soon!

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me