Welcome to the Podiatry Arena forums

You are currently viewing our podiatry forum as a guest which gives you limited access to view all podiatry discussions and access our other features. By joining our free global community of Podiatrists and other interested foot health care professionals you will have access to post podiatry topics (answer and ask questions), communicate privately with other members, upload content, view attachments, receive a weekly email update of new discussions, access other special features. Registered users do not get displayed the advertisements in posted messages. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our global Podiatry community today!

  1. Everything that you are ever going to want to know about running shoes: Running Shoes Boot Camp Online, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Have you considered the Critical Thinking and Skeptical Boot Camp, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Have you considered the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camp Online, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Have you considered the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camp Online, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
Dismiss Notice
Have you liked us on Facebook to get our updates? Please do. Click here for our Facebook page.
Dismiss Notice
Do you get the weekly newsletter that Podiatry Arena sends out to update everybody? If not, click here to organise this.

Barefoot running

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by jerseynurse, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. jerseynurse

    jerseynurse Member

    Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    I just read and viewed this video in the New York Times about Barefoot running by Chris McDougall who wrote the book "Born to run".

    You probably will have to sign up with the NYTs to view it.

    I wondered what this group thought about what McDougall said regarding: why barefoot running reduced his injuries and his thoughts on the structure of running shoes.
  2. We already talked about this chap:
  3. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    It dosen't reduce injuries.

    Here is what I wrote elsewhere on barefoot running:


    We were created to run barefoot to survive, so we can move camps, can hunt for our food, etc. But that was before concrete got invented and we started to run for fitness, recreation and competition rather than survival (but given the obesity epidemic we may need to run for survival in the near future!). Because of the invention of concrete, we needed another invention – the running shoe.

    Running barefoot comes in two forms. Those that do it in moderation as part of a balanced running program and those that use it as a philosophy that underpins their running. It is this later group I have a problem with. They are like religious zealots that are fanatical about it. They use nonsensical non-scientific mumbo jumbo to support what they do. They use any piece of evidence that is negative about running shoes as “proof” that barefoot running is better. They grasp at straws to misrepresent other research and dismiss any anti-barefoot research. They claim there is research for it, but when you look at the research, it does not support it - they misrepresent what the research is showing (...and even when you point that out to them, they continue to claim it supports them).

    At the end of the day, there is not one piece of evidence that shows barefoot is even ideal, let alone beneficial. Yet do an internet search for barefoot running and look at the extraordinary range of claims being made for the benefits of it. HOWEVER, there is no evidence that it is not beneficial either. Yet the fanatical supporters of barefoot running quote a wide range of research to support their cause. When I read the reference list for the claims, not one piece of the research says what they claim it says. Trying to discuss rationally with these people is like trying to argue a religion – you never going to win that argument.

    They also like to be dismissive of claims by Podiatrists that running barefoot is not good as Podiatrists have a vested interest in foot orthotics. That is just silly nonsense. Podiatrists will, generally, always be motivated by what is best for the patient and if the evidence says that barefoot running is beneficial, then they will be recommending it. There are even Podiatrists who are barefoot runners! I love the way the fanatics claims that Podiatrists are anti-barefoot running because of the orthotic $. They need to come up with some better evidence and data than that silly argument.

    There have been some very balanced discussions on Podiatry Arena on barefoot running; certainly more balanced that the fanatism and zealotry seen on some running forums to do with barefoot running.

    I not opposed to barefoot running; it is just I want good evidence to guide me as to what runners should and should not be doing it; it probably should be done in moderation as part of a balanced running program; and the zealots need to get over it
  4. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  5. jerseynurse

    jerseynurse Member

    Thank you for your very thorough and well expressed response. I was struck by the fact that he stated he essentially changed his gait to run barefoot and as I watched him run on the video he did in fact appear light on his feet as they impacted to the ground. I live around a lake and watch runners circle it all the time and I am always struck by the differences in how people land, swing and transfer their weight as they propel themselves along.
  6. DaVinci

    DaVinci Well-Known Member

    Good coments CP. I was looking over a barefoot running website recently and I could not believe that the actually beleived what they were writing!

    They were quoting references and research that even I know that what the research showed was not what they were claiming.

    There were claims that barefoot running promoted improved biomechanics, yet my understanding of the research was just comparing running barefoot to shod running, but did not show that one was better than the other.

    The love quoting the recent research we have discussed here about the lack of evidence to support running shoe prescriptions. What I do not understand is what has that research got to do with barefoot running being beneficial or not?

    So I do agree with the comment:
    Haven't we come across a lot of snake oil salesmen around here that the same could be said about them!
  7. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    You right about the way they use research.

    They trot out the Robbins & Gouw et al work (which was some good research, but the authors editorialised it to make claims about running shoes that their research did not show - the barefoot zealots ignore that and quote the editorialised stuff); the Richards systematic review on running shoes prescription not being evidence based (its not evidence based as no one has done the research! duh? - you right about it having nothing to do with showing anything about being barefoot! - why do the barefoot zealots quote this paper to support their cause?); and the Bruggeman research on the Nike Free improving leg strength (but that was in a shoe, NOT barefoot).
    Its very much like the Root Biomechanics is wrong, so that proves my {Insert theory name} Biomechanics is right type argument we been around here many times before. Root Biomechanics may or may not be wrong, but if it is, that has nothing to do with proving something else is right --- yet we hear that type of argument all the time.

    Its the same with the barefoot running promotors. You ask them a question about the research they quoting and point out thats not quite what it showed and you never get a straight answer; they go off on a tangent and not answer the question! (where have we seen that pattern before?)

    I will be the first to support barefoot running, but show me some research that stacks up to scrutiny!
  8. DrPod

    DrPod Active Member

    I agree. I have several patients who are barefoot runners and they are fine; but I have also met others who really are zealots and irrational. They really had no understanding of the research that they were quoting.
  9. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    It is kinda fun to follow. I have come across a couple of running forums where what I wrote above is being discussed. You only have to read the discussion to see how they confirm what I wrote!!!

    Some of the arguments they are using against what I wrote really are nonsensical (some criticized my grammar; some asked if I was equally critically of running shoes; some just quoted Richards research on the lack of evidence for running shoes; etc). Notice how NONE actually addressed the issue of barefoot running. It is the same in this Rothbart thread on: Vertical Facial Dimensions Linked to Abnormal Foot Motion. Despite repeated requests of the fanatics to answer the questions, none of them actually did. How many times do we see this pattern?

    It is the same with the Pose running technique. The scientific evaluation of the research that they use to support it has been done and shown to be wrong; but what to the fanatical supporters say about that?

    I not opposed to barefoot running; it is just the zealotry and the unsubstantiated claims being made.
  10. Secret Squirrel

    Secret Squirrel Active Member

    What do barefoot runners do on a cold day? :bang:
  11. DaVinci

    DaVinci Well-Known Member

    Isn't this the guy that is a barefoot runner and owns a company that sells a barefoot running product?
  12. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Yes, thats right. BUT, in fairness this was declared in the publication.

    Personally, I think the writing style and the nature of the way the publication was written clearly shows the author had an agenda; BUT to criticise it for that reason is like playing the man and not the ball. Just like those on the running forums having a go at me and not addressing the issues raised! .... which really only confirms what I wrote (one day they might get it).
    Its bloody cold where I am this morning. I went for a run and did not see anyone in barefoot!
  13. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Sorry, I should have responded sooner to this. Don't forget that there is NO evidence that high impact is actually a risk factor for injury. Surprisingly, no study has shown that those who impact the ground harder are at any increased risk for an injury. The barefooters like to make claims that barefoot running reduces impact and therefore injuries; well, does that really matter if impact is not a problem?

    There are other ways to "float" over the ground and "appear light" on the feet than barefoot running. Chi running encourages the same sort of thing, but they do it in shoes (but, they also have their nonsensical gurus who make all sorts of claims for research!)
  14. Sammo

    Sammo Active Member

    Am i the only one that found this really funny? Barefoot running products..

    Like the emporers new running trainers?? (hehehe) :pigs:

    This guy must be an amazing salesman..

    Seriously though... I know there is alot of people that swear by the Pose and Chi and barefoot running styles, but could the benefit and injury reduction they reportedly receive be due to the fact they are actually concentrating on maintaining a good running posture, and maybe undergoing an exercise programme outside of their normal running designed to improve runing posture, where before they might have been stomping about with really poor technique?
  15. JB1973

    JB1973 Active Member

    Hi all
    i too have not long finished with this book and i thought it was on a couple of levels. on the one hand it was quite a nice wee story about the indians and their need/love of running, and i think that is an important message to some runners that concentrate too much on tempo runs, timing and lactate threshold or whatever- you started running because you enjoyed it so start enjoying it again.
    then there is the the other level of the blatant agenda against running shoe companies (Nike in particular) with them being responsible for every injury incurred by runners. if he could i'm sure he would have blamed running shoe companies for the war in iraq, the economic crisis and the fact that Scotland are not going to the world cup 2010!

    However i have been trying it for maybe 20-30 mins once a week and i agree with Sam in the last post. my running has probably became more efficient but its because my posture has improved and it becomes less important whether i have shoes on or not ( although gastroc/soleus burn big time initially!). its an interesting issue though but as Craig says, some of these guys are blinkered its difficult to have a balanced debate about it.
  16. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Yes, he ignores that there is not one shred of evidence that running shoes cause injuries! All the evidence he claims to show that does not show that. I just can not understand how they can be so blind when reading what they call as evidence. This book is exactly what I am talking about!

    I will reiterate it again as I see myself being misquoted in some running forums ... I will even type it slowly so they get it: I am not opposed to barefoot running. I am just opposed to the bull**** that the zealots use to promote it with.
  17. Ben

    Ben Member

    I agree with Craig that as part of a balanced training program it can be quite beneficial. The big problems that seem to arise from these people preaching their ideas is that those amateur runners that aren't yet fit/strong/trained enough to maintain proper running posture/technique are going to get considerable overuse injuries elsewhere in their lower limbs as they try and change gait and recruit wrong muscle groups at the wrong time. Keeps business promising though...
  18. We have had quite a few discussions before here on Podiatry Arena on the question of barefoot running. I actually think it is good idea for runners to try running barefoot on occasion to see what it feels like. However, I will seldom recommend barefoot running to my patients for the simple reason that I don't want to be responsible for any injuries, such as puncture wounds, plantar abrasions and contusions and bee stings, caused by the barefoot running. These are not insignificant risks of injury to the average person that normally wears shoes and does not normally walk outside barefoot.

    From my own occasional personal experience of running barefoot during my collegiate cross country and track years, doing one mile intervals on a grassy field at about 5:10 mile pace, the biggest change I noted with running barefoot was that I simply was faster, presumably due to the reduced mass on my feet. Barefoot running for me generally amounted to a 5 second reduction in my mile interval time (i.e. instead of a 5:10 mile I would run a 5:05 mile) for an equivalent perceived exertion level. I never ran a race barefoot since my feet were not tough enough to run over other surfaces other than grass without hurting my feet, but barefoot running was definitely faster than running in shoes for me while on that surface.

    Therefore, there is no problem with running barefoot, if people want to give it a try, then I don't have a problem with it. However, as far as me actually recommending it as the preferred method of running as a medical professional to my patients, I think it would be unethical for me to do so since the vast majority of my patients would be more likely to become injured as a result or running barefoot.
  19. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

  20. JB1973

    JB1973 Active Member

    can i just ask ( in a non threatning way!) on what do you base the assertion that everyone who you recommend barefoot running to will get injured. assuming its as part of a wider training program and they dont have any glaring biomechanical anomolies, would they not be ok if they didnt overdo it?

    i have to confess i have never recommended it to a patient for fear i might be accused of injuring them, however i have no problems giving insoles/orthoses which arguable could also cause problems. are orthoses more of a known unknown and barefoot running an unknown unknown ( as donald rumsfeld would say;)
  21. JB:

    I don't recommend barefoot running to novice runners since I believe there is too much risk of injury. However, if when discussing training protocols with more experienced and competetive runners they ask me about barefoot running I tell them they should try it on occasion to see how it works for them. I don't find that the foot orthoses I make normally cause new injuries but all my patients are pre-warned that this event could happen and they should discontinue using them, until they can contact me, if such an event happens.

    I try to keep an open mind with all patients, tailoring my traning, shoe and orthosis recommendations depending on their level of running experience and racing times. It helps that I am a former competitive distance runner and it greatly helps me in discussing such issues that only 1-2% of my runner-patients have run as much as I have in my lifetime. I ran my first marathon at age 17.....that was 35 years ago. I estimate I have run over 55,000 miles during my lifetime. This type of experience gives the sports podiatrist a huge advantage over the non-runner clinician to have the knowledge to allow their runner-patients to continue to train with a minimum of mental anquish and time away from their running and racing.
  22. JB1973

    JB1973 Active Member

    thanks for replying Kevin
    i've been trying it out recently just to give me an idea of what it should feel like in the event of patients asking me and i've got to say i dont think i can do it much longer. my gastroc/soleus are screaming "stop". i'm looking forward to being able to walk downstairs in comfort.:D.
    having said that i do feel my style/posture has improved but, as i have said before, i dont need to be shoeless for that to happen.
  23. prozero

    prozero Welcome New Poster

    Barefoot running may not be ideal for everyone, but I have seen way too many runners in minimalist style shoes (not the nike free, but like fivefingers, etc) that have overcome rashes of injuries that they constantly got while using running shoes. There is a plethora of true research out there that proves barefoot/appropriate minimalist running is beneficial and strengthening to the runner (even on concrete). I will be posting some shortly on my blog. I advocate the minimalist movement and those that want to take it further to barefoot running then more power to them. It is not for everyone to run barefoot (the cold has its own share of issues :D), but I believe the majority of us are mis diagnosed and given inappropriate shoes with way too much support and stability that our feet AND joints do not need!
    www.barefoot-running dot com
    twitter dot com/barefootrun
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2009
  24. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Here is the APMA official position on barefoot running:
  25. My debated Barefoot Ken Bob on barefoot running a few weeks ago with Amby Burfoot moderating. Should be published in next month's Runner's World magazine.
  26. Amby Burfoot, a rather apt name.;)
  27. Amby is a former great marathoner that I followed in my youthful running years and has been editor of Runner's World for 31 years. He won the 1968 Boston Marathon while still a senior in college, has a personal best of 2:14 in the marathon, and was former roommate of Bill Rodgers (one of the best US marathoners of all time and four time winner of the Boston Marathon). Now he's just an old runner like myself, but 10 years my senior.
  28. JB1973

    JB1973 Active Member

    anyone who regularly reads runners world should recognise Ambys name. the articles he did were always interesting and worth reading, didnt realise he was quite so fast though!
    look forward to the magazine coming out.
    merry christmas everyone. and if your not in the festive mood yet, listen to Bob Dylan singing ' must be santa'. its sure to do the trick. ( and all proceeds go to charity)
  29. walkpod

    walkpod Welcome New Poster

    [Check4SPAM] RE: URL Attempt

    [URL Attempt] User received an error - No action required!

    Take a look at he work Dr Craig Richard (Australia) is doing. http://barefootrunningshoe.blogspot.com/
    Also have a read about Newton, Chi and Pose running to get some idea of what is happening out there. I have found looking at all these and pulling the bits with good biomechanical priciple will allow you to help you give advice to your patients. Remember what we have been telling our patients for years about footwear may be based on paradigms and marketing.
  30. Hi, I would like to add some purely personal anecdotal observation to this thread. I recently did some research on the vibram fivefinger shoes after a chiro asked me my opinion of them. I grew up as a barefoot child. The idea appealed to me. I got some to try about a month ago. They took a little getting used to but there was that feeling of relief even though a bit of foot soreness initially. My leg muscles work far more efficiently (one effect is that I am cycling up hills way more easily!) and this morning I felt like going for a jog. I am NOT in any way shape or form a runner. I am overweight and unfit. Yet I jogged easily 3km on a dirt path, at a slow pace I grant you. It is an interesting sensation feeling your knees doing the shock absorption while you run.

    My previous choice of shoe was a Brooks Ariel. Rarely wore anything else.
    Now when I put them on it just feels wrong. I can feel my ankles in particular are all locked up and I want my heel to be on the ground not up on a cushioned wedge. I miss the feedback from the ground.

    A question I have always asked my clients when they are describing pain symptoms is "Do you have the pain when walking barefoot?" Approx 70% of the time the answer is 'no'. My assumptions as to why - there is an inherent stability for many people barefoot, you move slower when barefoot than shod, unstable shoes are not transferring their instability to the gait pattern.

    Shoes allow us to move faster than we would otherwise. Add a treadmill into the equation and you have a recipe for over use injuries. Would anyone ever walk barefoot at 7km per hour for 45mins up an incline? Or jog for an hour at 10km per hour? Unlikely. Therefore I question whether the body is actually designed to cope with this day in day out.

    Yes, the virbrams look funny. One of my clients said it looked like i had gorilla feet. But I have come to the conclusion long ago that function is way more important than fashion. :)

  31. The human animal is designed to run.....with or without shoes. The cause of injury is not the presence or absence of shoes, it is the increased ground reaction force of up to 3X body weight when running, when compared to 1.25X body weight with walking and 0.5X body weight with bipedal standing. Obesity, age, type of surface being run on, foot and lower extremity structure and lack of proper increase in training mileage during running probably have more to do with running injuries than whether the person is barefoot or wearing shoes. However, the barefoot running advocates want us all to believe that running shoes cause increased injury risk and are harmful for us....this idea has no factual or research basis.

    If you want to run barefoot, then I see no problems with it as long as you don't mind the increased risk of abrasion, laceration, puncture wounds, frostbite in cold weather, burns and blistering in hot weather, and foot infection that can occur with running truly barefoot. By the way, many barefoot runners disdain the thin-soled shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers that are popular with barefoot running novices.

    For anyone to think that the average person that grew up and spent most of their lives walking and running in shoes can, as an adult, run with less injury-risk, can run on all surfaces at a faster pace and can run more comfortably while barefoot is ludicrous and, to me, is simply a fad that will pass just like the wearing of platform shoes have gone out of style at various times over the past few millenia.
  32. DaVinci

    DaVinci Well-Known Member

    Re: [Check4SPAM] RE: URL Attempt

    I think we have already had a thread on his biased agenda!
    At our last national confernece on the Gold Coast a biomechanist debunked the science that Pose running is allegedly based on on. I see Craig Payne is addressing Chi Running and Nick Brown on pose running at our state conference in march

Share This Page