In 2009, ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall became a best seller and barefoot running became the latest buzz. This book outlines McDougall’s search to find out why his feet hurt. That search ultimately led him to the “Superathletes” of the book’s subtitle. His story focuses on members of a Native American tribe who live their life without any appreciable foot wear and participate in extremely long races. In addition to their lack of footwear and long races, they apparently have a low incident of foot pain and problems. McDougall’s interesting find is far from the Evidence Based Medicine we medical professionals use to delineate the best treatment for your foot and leg pain.
As a recent AP story points out, many people who have taken up barefoot running to alleviate foot and leg pains often end up with new pains and problems. The article touches upon some of the research that has been done in this area. What many of these studies have found is that the style of running changes when you lose your shoes. Your typically running shoe has a well cushioned heel to help absorb the impact of 2-3 times your body weight. The normal fat pad under your heel can not absorb this impact for long distances and the body forces the foot to contact the ground in the middle (arch) or in the forefoot (ball).
We urge you to take the time to educate yourself thoroughly before embarking on any new activity. When it comes to shedding your shoes in hopes of felling better, take the time to visit Dr. Thomajan first. Your Austin Texas podiatrist will give you the best information on your foot structure and whether going barefoot is for you. We would like to point out that any indigenous barefoot tribes have lived their whole live with minimal shoes and have adapted to that over their life. As we have stressed before, always begin gradually and never ‘overdo it’. Running barefoot or using minimalist shoes should only be a part of your overall run and not a daily occurrence. Please seek out Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists with any foot pain before attempting to self treat with the latest fad.
Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!