Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Doc's Weekly eBrief: Barefoot Running

A few years ago my sister, who works at a boutique woman’s exercise shop, told me about the Vibram Five Finger shoe. She has always been very athletic: as a kid playing sports and then as an adult running, swimming, biking and even doing triathlons. She got me a pair of these Vibram shoes for my birthday and I have worn them on occasion. This minimalist shoe is a growing trend and Dr. Morgan’s article has good information.

In the beginning of the article he informs us that the modern running shoe trend began in the 1970’s where there was increased cushion and padding in the shoes with high-tech shock-absorbing material. In the most recent years however, many athletes are of the philosophy that less is better. The less of a shoe one wears, the more the deeper muscles end up performing, creating a different workout. The heavily padded shoes also do create a heavy heel strike and the minimalist shoe changes that pattern.

There still is not enough information scientifically to determine if the barefoot style of running is better and Dr. Morgan states that inappropriate shoes can create bunions, neuromas, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures. He also informs us that barefoot running has its share of injuries such as frostbite, tendonitis, metatarsal stress fractures, lacerations, puncture wounds, abrasions and stone bruising, which is why the minimalist shoe has been created, to help reduce those injuries.

Dr. Morgan recommends that if one were to begin using the Vibram, it is best to take ones time breaking them in. He personally runs a small amount in these shoes and uses the more common ones for his longer runs. My sister told me that from her observation at work, some people who wear these five-finger shoes all day long, tend to sometimes get fallen arches.

What I most enjoyed was how Dr. Morgan ended the article. He has a background in horsemanship and knows what it is like to shod horses. He noticed that each horse has a different way that their feet adapt, especially since wild horses prefer to run on soft loam but with human domestication we put them on rocky terrain and also have forced them to work when they would normally rest. Some horses never needed to be shod regardless of the stresses put on them, while others would pull up lame if they were not shod and then other horses were shod with corrective shoes. This difference is just like human beings so that is why he recommends trying them slowly to see how ones feet react.

Dr. William Morgan's Article on Barefoot Running.

In health and happiness,
Dr. Liselotte Schuster
(847) 509-9067

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