Volume 2 Issue 1 (February)
Barefoot vs. Traditional Shoes
If you’re a runner, whether competitive or recreational you have undoubtedly found yourself in a conversation contemplating the merits of barefoot running. Walk into any shoe store and you will be faced with a decision to purchase the traditional running shoe or the minimalist (barefoot) shoe promoting trendy barefoot running.
For those that don’t know, a minimalist shoe is void of almost all cushioning, arch support, rigidity and heel. The traditional shoe incorporates all of these aspects and unless you are over the age of 50, it is the kind of running shoe you grew up with.
The impact of the foot striking the ground during running exerts significant force on the body that must be dissipated by the muscles, bones and joints. These repetitive forces from foot striking can (and often do) result in repetitive stress injuries to the body. It has been found that wearing a traditional running shoe will actually INCREASE these forces experienced by the body. When we put cushioning under the heel we tend to rely on the shoe to absorb the impact. If we remove the shoe, the body will tend towards landing on the midfoot or forefoot naturally distributing the forces over a larger number of joints and muscles minimizing the impact.
When the body is left alone it is incredibly efficient at protecting itself. This is why I have adopted minimalist shoes as my choice of runner. I promote running in minimalist shoes to my patients, however it is critically important that making the change to minimalist shoes is done slowly and must be accompanied by a change in running technique.
It should be noted that there are several situation that minimalist shoes are NOT appropriate. For instance when an acute injury is present or when there is an inherent mechanical abnormality such as pes planus or flat feet. In these cases support and protection in the form of traditional shoes or orthotics may be the best choice. If you are wondering if barefoot running and minimalist shoes are right for you or if you are having foot, ankle, knee, hip or low back pain, book an appointment at Bayside Chiropractic
for an evaluation.
For a selection of Barefoot shoes and propper fitting, check out Anthony King at Training FX
John White, B.Sc., D.C.