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Perceptions of barefoot running

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Grahamc, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. Grahamc

    Grahamc Member

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    {ADMIN NOTE: I have edited the first part of this post and broke it off from the thread: Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running? , as it is worthy of more complete discussion}

    I must admit, to someone outside of the podiatry profession, I'm left with the impression that some of these judgments are shockingly bigoted.
    Is the intention to paint that picture or is it just accidental?

    It's interesting to note that podiatry is being viewed with increasing skepticism amongst the running community, and after reading this thread, I can see why.

    I've got no hidden agenda here; I've no connection with the OP. As a runner I do have a strong interest in barefoot running, and of course anything that is claimed to help runners run (and not be sidelined). My point here though is just airing an observation.
    This forum ranks highly in search engine results for barefoot running. Many, many people (me included), call in to see what the 'expert', view is. What they see is that anyone who relates their own barefoot running success story is often ridiculed, abused and generally put down.
    Yes, I agree that there are supporters of the barefoot trend that shout from the rooftops as if their own experiences will be replicated by everyone else who tries it. But, even so, I am not sure some of the posters here appreciate the damage they are doing to their own credibility and that of their peers.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2011
  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Re: Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running?

    Graham, I do not think anyone here is ridiculing barefoot running or is opposed to barefoot running.

    All that is getting ridiculed is those that make the nonsensical claims for it.

    * do you remember the claims that barefoot running was supposed to put 'podiatry and nike out of business' ... in reality, the injury rate is probably 10 to 100 times greater in barefoot runners compared to shoe runners. Ask anyone who working in a running injury clinic.
    * what about all the claims by the barefoot runners about all the science that proves barefoot running is better than shoe running ....when in reality, there is none that actually shows that. When you challenge them to produce the research, not one of them have done so yet.
    * what about all the claims that barefoot running reduces the impact shock:
    ----- yes it does, but what is actually wrong with impact shock? All the risk factor studies (except one) on running injury found no relationship between impact shock and running injury! (the one study that found a link was to tibial stress fractures which affect <1% of runners!)
    ----- it may reduce the impact shock, but it increases forefoot load, increases the forefoot dorsiflexion moments at the midfoot and ankle; it increases the rearfoot inversion moment --- if anyone has an injury history associated with those forces, then barefoot running is a risk (hence the high injury rate in barefoot running). Why when barefoot promotors dish the impact shock issues do they choose to not mention all the loads that are increased in barefoot running?
    ----- one of the studies that barefoot running reduces impact shock (Liebermann's in Nature) had a mean age of 39 in one group and 19 in the other group - in no other area would this kind of research be accepted, why do barefoot runners blindly accept it?
    * what about the claims that running shoes weaken muscles? (they don't)
    * those promoting barefoot running have the worse cases of confirmation biases and cherry picking in their writing and it makes a good case study to teach.
    * etc

    Can you see where this is heading? Can you see why they get ridiculed? Anyone making nonsensical claims around here do tend to get ridiculed, regardless of the topic.

    That has nothing to do if barefoot is good for you or not (and I am doing it!), its about:
    There is no barefoot running debate
  3. Grahamc

    Grahamc Member

    Re: Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.
    As I said, it's just an impression on reading some threads on this forum.
    It is certainly a lively subject and I expect it will continue to be so for a while yet.
    There are undoubtedly many runners who appear to be having great success with the introduction of some barefoot running, and yes, plenty of injuries too. Aside from the laboratory studies (or other controlled studies), detailed, rational accounts from both extremes and all those in between will contribute to our learning. With an obvious caveat: what works for Runner A, will not necessarily work for Runner B, or C, etc, — no matter what the science tells us.
  4. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Re: Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running?

    You right, there is no one right way to run, its what suits the individual runners, whether that be barefoot, pose, chi or whatever is the flavor of the month. I think that this would pretty much be the consensus around here. The issue is the fanatical claims by the proponents of whatever method is the one best way to run and
    There is no doubt that there are a lot of people with an injury history who are now running barefoot/minimalist with no injuries now. There is also no doubt that there is also a high injury rate in another group (some of them very serious and running career ending) in others who have tried it.

    For eg, there is some badly done research that showed that barefoot/minimalist decreases the abduction moment to the knee (if we want to accept the results of the badly done research). Darren Stefanyshyn a few yrs ago cross sectionally linked patellofemoral pain to higher abduction moments at the knee, so those with a history of this may benefit from the transition. HOWEVER, if you decrease one moment, you increase another, so doing so may help one structure, but it puts another at risk. It all depends on the subject specific nature of the reduction (and its not systematic) and just how low the moment that gets increased was to start with if you just trading one injury for another or not.

    For me, its all about getting the load in the injured structure down to below a level the tissues can tolerate to get the runner over the initial injury (orthotics, strapping, activity level and type modification). The next step is to consider if any change in running form can alter the load on that structure over the longer term (keeping in mind the risk of increasing load on another structure) and if the tissues can be adapted to take the load and the short term measures (ie orthotics) are not needed in the longer term. You have to see past the rhetoric and propaganda. Its all individual and not one approach will suit all.
  5. Re: Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running?

    :good: This is one of the best statements I have read on here all year. And essential for practitioners to truly understand when employing mechanical therapeutic strategies.

    Nice work fella.
  6. blinda

    blinda MVP

    Which, in a nutshell, is what Chris Nester said yesterday. Good lecture, and great to see the three Ians` et al again.
  7. Re: Your thoughts in my book on barefoot running?

    Certainly when we are speaking about the effects of ground reaction force (GRF) acting on the plantar foot and the patterns of how GRF change with rearfoot striking versus midfoot striking versus forefoot striking, it is true that there will be characteristic changes in internal moments occurring about the joints of the foot and lower extremity in each foot strike pattern in running. However, to be more accurate biomechanically, we must also remember that it is not just rotational forces (i.e. moments) occurring around the joint axes of the foot and lower extremity that we need to be concerned about. We must also be concerned about the compression forces and shearing forces acting on and with the structural components of the foot and lower extremity when the foot striking pattern during running is altered.

    For example, most barefoot runners will choose to midfoot or forefoot strike during running on hard surfaces just to avoid the rather large magnitudes of compression forces acting on the plantar calcaneus that would come with rearfoot striking. In so doing, they will likely increase the compression forces acting on the plantar forefoot during early contact phase. Changing from a rearfoot striking pattern to a midfoot or forefoot striking pattern will also alter the bending moments on the long bones of the foot and lower extremity, will alter the loading patterns acting on and within the muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage and alter the moments acting across the knee, ankle, subtalar, midtarsal and midfoot joints.

    Therefore, in order to be more accurate, I would state that both internal moments and internal loading forces acting on and within the various structural components of the foot and lower extremity are altered as the runner changes their foot striking pattern during running which, may, in turn, alter the anatomical location, type and severity of the injuries seen within the runner's body.
  8. toriajohn

    toriajohn Member

    In the interest of research, I have bought a pair of the bare foot running shoes and, so far, have been pleasantly surprised by the effect that they have had on my running. I think, however, I have to qualify a podiatrist's position on this topic as we see the fall out when something goes wrong i.e runners who have not changed their running style appropriately and adapted their stretching regime.

    I therefore happily encourage all my running patients to trial barefoot running but I implore that they consider and adapt their running style, consider pilates to gain core stability, employ a militant stretching regime and most importantly, increase speed an miliage slowly.
  9. Yeah, they'll be out trying to insight violence among the public sector workers during their "strike" tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll be dealing with the fall-out of having my clinic burgled for the second time in 3 or 4 months. For the record, I don't have a pension and cannot see the day when I will ever be in a position to retire. I do see me having to take a day off work tomorrow to look after my daughter because her teachers (who have got to already have the best working terms and conditions of any profession on the planet- lets remember these people generally have only a bachelor degree and get better holidays than anyone else on the planet- 6 weeks off in the summer, a couple of weeks at Christmas, a week off mid-term, a couple of weeks at Easter, the odd week come Autumn; starting salary of.... what?) see fit to close her school tomorrow. The country will loose several million pounds tomorrow, I'll loose a days wages all so that "public sector workers" can complain and get no-where. It'll end in tears too, when the "militants" get involved, mark my words. Idiots. Here's how it works, when public sector expenditure exceeds private sector earning, the country fails because there isn't enough private sector income to pay for and cover the public sector expense. That is exactly what has happened. Wake up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEKC5pyOKFU By going on strike you are ****ing up the private sector which funds your salaries. "I guess you'll have to adjust".

    To keep this on topic, my perception of barefoot running? There are too many people without the pre-requisite knowledge of running biomechanics, running related injury and medical expertise giving advice on barefoot running. You can can call yourself a sports injury specialist in my country without any need for formal qualification and training; you can do an evening class for a few weeks and be a sports injury specialist; you can call yourself a ped-orthotist in my country without any formal training or licensing and sell foot orthoses to the un-suspecting public without any need to pay for a license to practise nor a practice and have no fear of retribution from any professional body/ licensing organisation. Yet as a chiropodist/ podiatrist who has studied for 20+ years, both my professional and private life is monitored and under the scrutiny of the health professions council, for which I have to pay for that special treatment. What is wrong with this picture? Where are the militants throwing petrol bombs for my cause?
  10. Grahamc

    Grahamc Member

    If people offering advice make their position clear, there shouldn't be a problem (but of course there is). We can listen to advice from non-experts and choose to accept it or not. Some of the very best advice I have received over the years has come from people who have not been qualified to give it; although that depends on one's definition of 'qualified'.
    If someone comes to me and asks my advice about barefoot running, as a running coach I can offer my advice based on my experience of barefoot running. I will always add that my experience is not necessary going to be their experience and that they should make their own decisions about who to believe. There are many sports injury experts who disagree on this subject so it's not simply a case of assuming those with xx years of professional experience are correct; I've received awful advice from medically qualified people in the past.

    But yes agreed, since the age of the blog and the internet forum the number of 'experts' on any and every subject means that there are very few of us non-experts left.
  11. "I'm a runner who's run barefoot " really doesn't cut the mustard any more than me appearing on a thoracic surgeons blog, proclaiming that: "I breathe, therefore my opinion on cardio-pulmonary function is as valid as the next mans, man". Lets not pretend that the ability to run is something special here. The vast majority of the general public can run without any formal training. And your expertise, Graham?
  12. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Thanks for clarifying that ;) I thought being a barefoot runner gave you a medical degree and qualified you to give medical advice on how to treat ALL injuries. I did not know that it didn't ! ;)
  13. Yeah, the thing that has got me interested though Craig is: do blog sites for things like thoracic surgery get members of the lay public trying to give their "valid" opinions or is it just barefoot runners that have ideas above their stations and want to engage in podiatry blog sites?
  14. musmed

    musmed Active Member

    Dear Craig
    You are right!
    When I went to Uni, I attended the Anatomy and running school and lectures, histology and sprinting lectures and finally psychiatry and hurdling an interesting combination. In these lectures I learnt that in reality everything is up in the air (ethers)!
    Barefoot and ragged Dr. Paul Conneely
  15. Grahamc

    Grahamc Member

    As I said before, I'm no expert, I came here to learn, and I'm pleased to report that I am. Given the title of the forum, I should expect a little gladiatorial banter along the way.

    Well, I can't speak for them.

    However, I'm interested, do you ever learn anything from your patients? Are the experiences of the sufferer of any value to the therapist? When I started running, I learnt a great deal about my new interest from someone who works on steam engines for a living. He has no formal education in running, fitness, or biomechanics, yet guidance from him (and others with similar layman status), helped me to achieve things I'd thought were not possible for someone of my limited talent. And whilst I agree with your "Lets not pretend that the ability to run is something special here", there as a level of running (and of course this will be different for different people), that is very special indeed.

    Hope you are enjoying your day off.
  16. toriajohn

    toriajohn Member

    Valid points. I'm in contact with a McClaren engineer who has a deep seated interest in sports injuries and his knowledge is phenominal. If he can contribute to flinging Lewis Hamilton around a strip of tarmac at 200mph, I'd imagine that he's proved his capacity to understand mechanics, organic, running, injured ones at that. And yes, the patients opinion can often contradict our own so it is a case of cough, swallow ego, breath, listen and learn.

    Day off?? 14 high risk patients beg to differ!
  17. No as I'm losing money. Do I learn from patients? Generally yes, but these are generally the subjective things which I have not experienced for myself like what it's like to be diabetic, to have a stroke etc. I know what it feels like to run and compete at county level because I've done that for myself. I can't remember ever learning anything about running biomechanics from a patient though.
  18. Lorcan

    Lorcan Active Member

    Having a qualification doesn't nessecarily mean having all the answers or being an expert. I have experience of a fully qualified Podiatrist providing casted orthoses when the assesment consisted of drawing around the feet with a pen on a sheet of paper.
    From my perspective I feel fine to listen to any argument from any source if they are well reasoned. I try not dismiss any "non-expert" opinion.
    I suppose what I'm trying to say is that any opinion can be a positive contribution if it is open to looking at the otherside of the argument. I think both sides of the barefoot debate are guilty of not doing this.

    I think the hostility from Podiatirsts your referring to is as result of opinion being offered that refuses to see both side of the arguments and usually this is from Runners who have been misdiagnosed/mistreated given inappropriate unnessecary orthoses, which is something I try to remember when I listen to them.

    Just MY opinion!
  19. blinda

    blinda MVP

    Day 8 of losing money for me...Oh well. Jack`s room is now bright purple:cool:

    Tell you what I`ve learnt from patients of late; they don`t listen to outgoing recorded messages. The clinic is CLOSED due to a bladdy great gaping hole my treatment room where the window and door once was. SO NO, I CAN`T JUST `SQUEEZE` YOU IN:bang:

    Perhaps we should listen more to what patients tell us, agree to their own treatment plans and then sit back and then marvel as their symptoms disappear. Gotta be good for business, ja?
  20. No Give em all a pill fixes everything, lose weight, don´t get up in the night to go to the toilet and reduces loads in the plantar fascia at the same time.
  21. toriajohn

    toriajohn Member

    After the day I've had, wish I had gone out on strike......
  22. Grahamc

    Grahamc Member

    toriajohn, Lorcan,

    Someone must have left the door open; a waft of fresh air blew in.
    Thanks for restoring my faith in the profession.
  23. toriajohn

    toriajohn Member

    Awww, shucks!

    I love interaction with other professionals, it ups my game and quite frankly you give me a perspective that I don't have. Fundamentally, we all want the same thing, happy runners.

    Well if you're ever in Surrey......

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