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  • Barefoot running

    Part of the reason I hate cardio is that I have to keep a moderate pace like a brisk walk and cannot really run without major shinsplints. The 2 articles below though give some food for thought:


    The New Exercise Trend: Barefoot Running
    It’s not for everyone, but some runners are trying out a new trend: hitting the road sans shoes.

    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
    Six miles into an 18-mile race along the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010, Kate Clemens felt a sharp pain in her knee. Instead of stopping, the 29-year-old personal trainer from San Francisco took off her shoes and ran barefoot. Without shoes, her knee pain disappeared and she was able to finish the race. "I felt a difference the minute I took my shoes off," she recalls. "When I’m barefoot, my alignment is better and I run more from my core."

    Clemens is following in the footsteps of the growing number of runners who have been hitting the streets and trails without their sneakers. Proponents of barefoot running believe wearing shoes hinders their natural stride, causing pain and injuries.

    Running Barefoot vs. Running in Shoes
    According to a 2010 study published in the journal Nature, runners who wear shoes tend to strike the ground with the heels of their feet first. This gait, called a heel-strike, generates a force up to three times the body’s weight, which can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures. In contrast, barefoot runners land on the balls of their feet, generating less impact when their foot strikes the ground.

    "We’ve oversupported our feet [in running shoes] to the point that our foot doesn’t have to do what it’s designed to do," explains Irene S. Davis, PhD, PT, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and director of the Spaulding National Running Center. "When you support a muscle, it doesn’t have to work as hard; when it doesn’t have to work as hard, it gets weak."

    Davis believes your body instinctively knows how to adjust when you shed your shoes or run in "barefoot shoes," ultra-lightweight shoes designed to mimic barefoot running. Barefoot runners shorten their strides, reducing the impact on their lower bodies, and automatically flex their knees, hips, and ankles for a softer landing on hard surfaces, Davis says.

    Ditching your shoes means the muscles in your calves and feet will have to work harder to accommodate to a different foot strike and shorter stride; it takes time for new barefoot runners to build up those muscles.

    But Clemens is on board. She’s become a regular barefoot runner since the day she abandoned her shoes on the trail. "Without shoes, I’m more attuned to how my body moves," she says. "it’s grounding to feel the earth beneath my feet."

    Ready to Run Barefoot?
    If you have a history of foot problems, check with your doctor before going barefoot. If you decide to ditch your running shoes, there are a few things you should know, says Irene S. Davis, PhD, PT.

    Start slow. You’re more likely to suffer injuries if your foot and leg muscles aren’t properly conditioned for running barefoot. Start with walk-jog intervals, walking for nine minutes, running for one minute, and repeat, working up to longer distances. In addition, the skin on your feet needs to thicken to get used to barefoot running.

    Think twice. Though there is a risk of stepping on glass or pebbles, Davis believes it’s safe to run barefoot on the pavement. If you’re nervous about foot-to-asphalt contact, wear barefoot running shoes instead.

    Know when to say no. Runners who have any loss of feeling in their feet, including people who have diabetes, should wear sneakers.



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    Barefoot Creates Less Collision Force Than Running in Cushioned Shoes, Study Says
    By Bill Hendrick
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD Jan. 27, 2010 -- Running barefoot causes less collision force to the feet than running in cushioned shoes, a new study says.

    Researchers reporting in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Nature show that runners who run without shoes usually land on the balls of their feet, or sometimes flat-footed, compared to runners in shoes, who tend to land on their heels first.

    Cushioned running shoes, which date back only to the 1970s, may seem comfortable but may actually contribute to foot injuries, say Daniel Lieberman, PhD, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, and colleagues.

    The scientists, using motion and force analyses, showed that barefoot runners who strike on the fore-foot (land on the balls of their feet) generate smaller collision forces than shod rear-foot strikers.

    The researchers say that although there are anecdotal reports of reduced injuries in barefoot populations, more work is needed to test their view that either barefoot runners or those with minimal footwear (such as sandals or moccasins) have reduced injury rates.

    Running Barefoot Can Be Comfortable
    By running on the balls of the feet or the middle of the foot, runners avoid more forceful impacts, equivalent to two to three times of body weight, that shod heel-strikers repeatedly experience.

    “People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike,” Lieberman says in a news release. “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.

    “Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain.”

    He says a few calluses can help runners avoid injuries.

    Build Up to Barefoot Running
    Lieberman and colleagues analyzed the running styles, or gaits, of five groups of people -- U.S. adult athletes who had always worn shoes, Kenyan adult runners who grew up barefoot but now wear cushioned running shoes, U.S. adult runners who grew up wearing shoes but now run barefoot or with minimal footwear, Kenyan adolescents who have never worn shoes, and Kenyan adolescents who have worn shoes for most of their lives.

    And they say they found a striking pattern.

    Most shod runners, which would encompass 75% or more of Americans, strike their heels when they run, experiencing a large and sudden collision force an average of 960 times for every mile they run, “making runners prone to repetitive stress injuries,” the authors write.

    On the other hand, people who run barefoot tend to land with a step toward the middle or front of the foot, causing less impact force to the foot.

    Madhusudhan Venkadesan, PhD, a co-author and researcher in applied mathematics and human evolutionary biology at Harvard, says in the news release that heel striking is painful when running barefoot or in minimal shoes “because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground.”

    But barefoot runners point their toes more at landing, avoiding the collision effect by decreasing the “effective mass of the foot that comes to a sudden stop when you land, and by having a more compliant, or springy leg.”

    Modern people have grown up wearing shoes, so running barefoot is something to be eased into, Lieberman says. Modern running shoes are designed to make heel-striking easy and comfortable. He suggests runners who want to shed their shoes do so slowly, to build strength in the calf and foot muscles.
    -KidRok-
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  • #2
    I agree with this as well KidRok. Running in big cushiony shoes is easy. So any overweight person does it when if they had to run barefoot it would hurt their heels to much.....so instead they slowly wear away at their knees from all the force they are creating. Any elite runner runs mostly on the balls of their feet for this very reason. This idea is getting more popular, but I still feel I am in the minority in the physical therapy world with this idea.

    Here is a vid of that Lieberman guy which is pretty good

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE
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    • #3
      Didn't have time to read through everything, but as an owner of a pair of Vibram 5 fingers, I will say this: Start SLOWLY!

      I love them for squatting and DL's, but I tried to jog briskly in them for about 20 min the 2nd time I had them on....not good the next day. I have never done anything that activated my calves and tibialis like that...stairs were a no-no for about 4 days afterwards.
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      • #4
        I tested this last summer. I decided to take up running barefoot and walking in my area and man was it great. I never suffered shin splits or any problems at my weight. My calf muscles I will say got some tremendous shaping during this and the muscles around my ankles started to build up significantly.
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        • #5
          I wish I could wear the Vibram shoes - because I also am a big believer in this, after doing reading on the subject.
          Unfortunately I'm one of those "mutants" who has a second toe that is longer than my first, so those shoes won't fit me properly

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PTAaron View Post
            I wish I could wear the Vibram shoes - because I also am a big believer in this, after doing reading on the subject.
            Unfortunately I'm one of those "mutants" who has a second toe that is longer than my first, so those shoes won't fit me properly
            Take some heat and STRETCH EM OUT..

            Pretty sure I saw a youtube video on it somewhere.. making it fit your toes perfectly by stretching or something.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by fade View Post
              Take some heat and STRETCH EM OUT..

              Pretty sure I saw a youtube video on it somewhere.. making it fit your toes perfectly by stretching or something.
              I didn't know you could do that ... LOL! Seems too simple and obvious.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by PTAaron View Post
                I wish I could wear the Vibram shoes - because I also am a big believer in this, after doing reading on the subject.
                Unfortunately I'm one of those "mutants" who has a second toe that is longer than my first, so those shoes won't fit me properly
                My next pair of shoes will be either the merrill glove or the new balance minimus. They seem like they have all the benefits without having to wear five finger shoes unless I am mistaken.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ajweins View Post
                  My next pair of shoes will be either the merrill glove or the new balance minimus. They seem like they have all the benefits without having to wear five finger shoes unless I am mistaken.
                  I was looking at the Minimus over the weekend - running store near us was having a big sale, and I kind of wish I had picked them up.

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                  • #10
                    I have 2 pairs of vibrams and they are awesome. From what I've heard if you already are a big runner the transition would be very detrimental because your body has already changed and adapted to all te cushioning. For weightlifter the vibrams are great but I also have a problem as my little toe is significantly smaller than the 4th toe. Innov-8 or something like that is good as well a the Merrill's. I think shoemart or shopmart has all of the miminalist shoes and vibrams for alot less than the five finger site. I've actually hear the minimum is poorly made and tears quick.
                    My KSO's have lasted a year and a half of daily weightlifting and semi regular aerobic activities. Just makes your feet stink to holy hell.

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                    • #11
                      Wish I had known this. The years of running for soccer and football have absolutely killed my knees. I know have avoid any impact cardio for that purpose. Those of you who have picked up barefoot running. How did you adapt your body for it? I tried simply running on the balls of my feet and it was almost instant knee and foot pain.
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                      • #12
                        There's an author who's making the talk radio and TV circuit now with his book about this very subject. Neither he nor this study addresses runners who under-pronate (supinators) however, so while this style might work for the majority who over-pronate to some degree, if you're like me you will keep your Vomero +6's.

                        Is my supinating bitterness shining through?

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                        • #13
                          All the research I have read on the subject have pointed to barefoot running being better for certain individuals with the proper biomechanical characteristics that make it better for them to run with forefoot striking pattern. For many others, this would lead to injury because they are anatomically better set up for heel striking
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by olinerules87 View Post
                            All the research I have read on the subject have pointed to barefoot running being better for certain individuals with the proper biomechanical characteristics that make it better for them to run with forefoot striking pattern. For many others, this would lead to injury because they are anatomically better set up for heel striking
                            You are completely right. When I talked to my professor she said that it was a bad idea but it feels better personally. When you run in vibrams you'll naturally run without the heal strike. I don't really think about how I'm running, I just feel it all in my calf and nothing in the shin/knee or even hip.

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                            • #15
                              Pronation/Supination in theory shouldn't be a big issue because you are not hitting with your heel and rolling through the stride while running. Landing with the forefoot eliminates the part of the stride that you will see excessive pronation and supination occurring in.
                              This is one of the reasons I am interested in it... I used to be a runner, and while I have no desire to be a runner again, my wife has taken up half marathon running. I want to try out this type of running to see if I can attempt to "jog" along with her on one of these races at some point. Right now I can't without getting horrible shin splints - just because of my bodyweight.

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