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The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Kevin Kirby, Sep 15, 2011.

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    Here is an interesting article on the injuries that are now occurring with barefoot running that seems to be consistent with my clinical observations.

    The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic

    Also, one of my podiatric colleagues who treats a lot of runners in San Francisco just e-mailed me this message which basically details the frustration that many of us have with the barefoot running fad.

    Any more of you want to share your best barefoot running injury stories?
  2. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    All of the injured "barefoot" runners who have presented to me in clinics over the last 12 months tend to have one thing in common: they did not transition in a sensible manner, and did way too much way too soon.

    I use the term "barefoot" loosely, as 99% of them were actually not running barefoot, but instead in shoes which are marketed as being such.
  3. Lois_B

    Lois_B Member

    It seems as though the vast majority of people who have just taken up barfoot running have been disillusioned into thinking that they can just ditch the shoes and run as far as they like, without properly researching the possible injuries they could sustain. From what I can make of it, most think that they can run barefoot just like they were wearing shoes, where the reality is that it isn't possible to run as far without probably receiving a stress fracture. A friend of mine decided to run barefoot and she didn't think to work slowly upwards and was admitted to hospital with a stress fracture within a short amount of time. To be honest, I think the word "fad" is very true. With the amount of injuries related to barefoot running, it won't be long before the experts start saying how it does more harm than good.
  4. Firstly, there is no epidemic here in Plymouth, not least because the number of people running barefoot or in minimalist shoes is very, very small by my reckoning.

    Over the last 18 months to two years I've encountered only four individuals who have told me they have either run barefoot or in minimalist shoes. One female, tried barefoot running over short distance at the beach and developed a calf strain; one male had made his own minimalist shoes in an attempt to overcome his achilles tendonopathy on the advice of a "running guru" without success and had added his wifes orthoses to his minimalist shoes which had helped relieve the symptoms and wanted a pair of orthoses of his own; one had run barefoot on the treadmill and has now given up running due to repeated injury; another female tried barefoot running on the beach and presented with a calf strain.
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  6. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    You only have to go to any barefoot running website to see all the barefoot runners asking for advice on their injuries!!! and barefoot running was supposed to be putting us out of business. The opposite has happened.

    One of the scary ones I came across yesterday was a BF runner saying he had been diagnosed with PTTD (!!!!!!!) and was seeking advice. All the advice that they were being given would get you and I hammered for malpractice. It was obvious that those giving advice had no idea what PTTD even was! The advice centered around keeping barefoot running. That kind of ludicrous advice is sentencing that person to a life time of disability; probably some significant rearfoot surgery and never being able to run again. If any runner has got PTTD, then they urgently need to stop running. ... it sends shivers up your spine when you read the kind of advice this person was getting....its a bit like the barefooter who gave potentially life threatening advice to a person with diabetes.
  7. That's like going on a diet to lose weight, then because you got hungry staying on the diet but eating doughnuts as well.
  8. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    It's becoming quite clear to me that barefoot runners have there feet in too many pies.
  9. blinda

    blinda MVP

    That does not conjure a pretty picture.
  10. carolisus

    carolisus Welcome New Poster

    I agree with virtually everything that everyone has said, AND what hasn't been mentioned is that although we were built to run, we were not built to run on hard, flat surfaces. If you spend your days plowing fields barefoot behind a mule or walking on the soft sand at the beach, then your foot and leg muscles and tendons are strong and flexible. If you normally run on paved surfaces you are risking injury if you run barefoot or in the minimalist footwear. I'm a retail C.Ped, and in the last 2 weeks I've seen 3 young (under 25) runners with plantar fasciitis. All 3 had been wearing the minimalist footwear for about 3 weeks.

    So wear the Vibram products, but run on soft, forgiving surfaces, and be sure you have strong ankles, with no history of sprains.
  11. RobinP

    RobinP Well-Known Member

    That would make them not barefoot runners wouldn't it?

    Is a pie a minimalist shoe?
  12. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Is a meat pie a non minamilist shoe?
  13. No, its a 4/4 degree posted foot orthosis, but that's another story...:D
  14. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I just got an email from a DPM who did not want to post here but he is tomorrow taking a former barefoot runner into the OR to do some significant tendon and bone work as a result of PTTD. They emailed me to see if it was the same person I was referring to. The gentleman in question had his PTTD diagnosed by an orthopaedic surgeon with told him to stop running; prescribed rigid orthotics and high top hiking boot (which is the exact right approach in the early stages). Unfortunately, he sought advice from others on a barefoot website and was told in no uncertain terms by a lot of people to keep barefoot running; concentrate on 'form' and ditch the orthotics, which they did. Needless to say, they undergoing the knife tomorrow, will never be able to run again and will have some sort of permanent disability as a result. It is entirely predictable that this would be the outcome of PTTD if they were to follow the barefoot advice.

    They are apparently very bitter and twisted about the outcome that resulted from the advice they were given .... it also throws up issues of getting medical advice on forums from people who obviously have no idea what PTTD is and let alone examined him, let alone qualified to give this sort of advice.

    I do not know if this is the same person I came across asking for advice, but it is one runner who will have permanent problems and disability from barefoot running and following advice on a barefoot running website. I do not recall this ever happening to anyone who ran in shoes.

    This leaves a sour taste in your mouth as its shame that no one can be held accountable for this.
  15. Craig:

    There is someone who can be held accountable for this, the poor soul who believed the advice of the barefoot running fanatics rather than their physician and, as a result, will now never be able to run again. I pity people who get their medical advice from non-medically trained individuals on an internet forum. Shouldn't we expect people to have at least an ounce of common sense??!
  16. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    From the email I got it appears in this case that the advice they were being given was 'aggressive' 'forceful' and 'adament' that they ditch the orthotics and keep up the barefoot running, so they genuinely believed that the orthopaedic surgeon has mistreated them or given them bad advice (they were too embarrased to return to the original orthopeadist for further management).
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