Increasing your Foot strength –Barefoot running not necessary

According to the theory behind barefoot running, shoes have made your feet weak.  Chris McDougall’s book ‘Born to Run’ claims that many of the foot problems we currently are afflicted with come from the development of running shoes in the 1970’s.  The theory goes that the support in our shoes weakens the musculature in and those acting on the foot. To lay the plethora of foot ailments for young and old people alike on Nike, Adidas, Aasics, and all the other running shoe manufacturers is a bit unfair.  Dr. Scholl began bringing the world’s attention to feet and proper foot care back in 1912.  The foot doctor, known originally as chiropodist, and later podiatrist, was established soon after.  These doctors were treating foot injuries and ailments long before the modern running shoe came on the scene.


While blaming our foot problems on the running shoes may be a thin argument, it is a fact that few of us pay attention to our feet until they start hurting us. Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are two common problems that result from poor foot function or the mechanics of improper movements of your feet.  Many times it is longtime neglect for your feet that result in foot injuries.  Your feet are probably the most critical part of your body when conducting your daily activities, but likely the least cared for. Not giving your feet due attention or failing to strengthen, stretch, and massage your feet can lead to weakness. The good news is, you don’t have to start running around without shoes on, or purchase some Vibram Five Fingers to get your feet in better shape.


Make foot exercises and flexibility part of your routine. Many of the stretches and strengthening exercises you can Google for plantar fasciitis are good as routine exercises. Consider using your toes to pick up a towel off the floor.  Stretching out your foot by placing a towel around your feet, holding the ends in your hand and pull your toes towards you.  In addition to stretching out the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon, you can push your foot against the resistance of the towel in all directions to increase strength.  Including a few simple foot exercises like these in your daily routine, can provide you the foot strength without running around barefoot.


Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS
Podiatric Physician, Surgeon, Specialist at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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