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I used to spend a lot of time barefoot in my teens.
The skin on my heels and the contact points on the soles of my feet used to get very hard and thick
Running barefoot was not a problem, but not something that I did much of (barefoot or otherwise).
I like the idea of running barefoot, but I would want the right kind of surface, or several months walking barefoot first, to get the feet conditioned.
I've already commented on this on another thread but here goes.
The article is very contradictory at times and doesn't make any brilliant observations. The author mentions an increase in heel injuries and then talks about PF which strictly speaking is not really a heel injury, so I'm not sure whether he is referring to an increase in PF or an increase in heel injuries which would suggest people trying to heel strike barefoot which is clearly not a good idea.
I'm a firm believer that most of these injuries will be a result of people reading the book "born to run" and naively kicking off their shoes and heading out too far too fast barefoot without allowing time to adapt. As for the "experts" that come out with sweeping generalisations along the lines of "only a minority of people can run barefoot", I don't quite understand this statement at all. Surely running barefoot is no different to running in neutral shoes or racing flats with the only difference being the level of cushioning present and the way the foot spreads.
I understand that people with severe foot problems may struggle, but these people will most likely struggle in any shoes anyway. The expert opinion seems to suggest that only runners with perfect biomechanics can run barefoot, but somehow most of the developing world are able to do it without significant problems.
I don't want to get into the whole "barefoot is better/worse" debate because I think it's more of a personal preference, but the way the "barefoot community" and the "experts" are pushing their opinions is very similar to religious brainwashing and it's starting to get annoying now. Both sides are guilty of pushing dubious evidence to support their cause and not giving anyone a proper balanced viewpoint.
I think what the "evidence" suggests to me is that barefoot running or shod running are both fine, but the bugbear is technique. If your technique is poor then running shoes will mask it to a certain extent and allow you to run badly for longer which may lead to chronic injuries. The only thing barefoot does is prevent you from running too much with sloppy technique, which in turn teaches you better technique. This is what has happened with me anyway and that is the only sense I can derive from the various studies etc floating about at the moment.
I do believe that the flatter and less fancy the shoe the better. I reckon if you have your technique right and listen to your body you can run injury free for as long as you want whether you're wearing shoes or not.
Personal preference for me is currently VFF's and a bit of barefoot thrown in where possible and so far I'm happy with that. But if someone else is running injury free with motion control shoes and not having any issues, then I see no reason why they should change.
What is not known is whether barefoot runners are now disproportionately represented in physical therapy and sports medicine facilities—in other words, whether barefoot runners are more likely to develop overuse injuries than shod runners. Koch and Pribut are not ready to say that this is the case. “The more barefoot runners there are, the more injured barefoot runners there will be,”
PMSL... that's vaguer than a vague thing on a vague day...
I entirely agree with what Rob said about technique. I'm one of those overpronators for whom the article says barefoot or vibram running is not appropriate. I had nothing but injuries despite extortionately expensive custom fitted CAD-CAM orthotics, motion control shoes etc etc. After one particular injury I took time out and returned to running from scratch, worked on my imbalances, worked on my technique, lots of short vibram runs on grass... and my legs have never felt better.
I wasn't overdoing it...
D2D - "not overdoing it" is starting learning to run again and dropping back to doing a mile or so at a time 2-3 times a week and not doing excessive mileage in your other shoes in the meantime. Listening to your body and taking it very easily with plenty of rest, stretching, and icing (even when not injured) to allow the body plenty of time to adjust to new forces. I suspect you were trying to fit too much mileage in and trying to keep the pace up without allowing your body to gently get used to protecting itself from impact instead of using shoes.
If I remember you're a forefoot runner aren't you? so I'm surprised that you couldn't switch easily enough with a bit of moderation (what am I saying )
Nam - I'm interested in the exercises you have been doing to improve your alignment and such, where did you get these from? Did you go to see someone or was it just a book or the net? I have been trying similar stuff myself so I'm glad to hear it's worked well for you so far.
LOL I had a feeling I was missing out on half of the conversation. They beauty of the ignore function...
Rob my alignment problems, according from my physio & osteopath who agreed on this, came actually from increasing my cycling too fast for my ability and lack of cycling type of core strength. I have a stronger and weaker leg and my pelvis & hip developed a serious tilt to make up for the weaker leg. That developed into trochanteric bursitis which took a while to settle.
Prior to that though I always had problems coping with the impact of running. I was always a heel striker... didn't know any better. Spent a fortune on orthotics and shoes. The orthotics gave me more problems than they cured and I felt as if my legs actually got weaker by using them.
Then I tried some Newtons in the middle of my IM training, which I really enjoyed but I broke them in too quickly and had a run where I got a hurty twang in the forefoot (was only muscular no SF), but it made me ponder about forefoot running as my legs seemed to recover so much better. Normally after 10 miles my joints would kill me and in the Newtons they didn't.
Then after Switzerland my hip was "gone" and I was forced to take time out. My physio gave me a number of resistance band exercises to do initially, then later I went back to free weights. My osteo cracked my sacroilliac joint back into place and I had massageand other manipulation too.
When I got the all clear to run I had had conversations with my physio (who is a triathlete) about gait and he is a big believer in barefoot running... not all the time but to supplement a schedule maybe once or twice a week for shorter runs. Like I said I started from scratch with 10-15min run/walks and build from there.
I showed my boyfriend the other day, I now have medial muscle in my lower calves I never had before!! I used to get awful tibialis posterior tendonitis and now it feels like I pronate a lot less. I just seem to cope so much better with the impact and my legs recover really nicely. At the beginning my calves were a wee bit tight but that soon settled.
Sounds like I'm already on the right track nam, thanks for that.
theraband exercises - tick
barefoot running - tick
Massage - half tick
oh I also did some of the Pose running prep exercises before going out running for a couple of weeks at least leading up to the first runs...
you can see them on you tube... stuff like "the pony" etc.