Running Shoes Damage Your Feet – Run Barefoot! (Insanity! or Maybe Not…)

Until March  2010 I have spent my whole adult life hating running. I really did not like it and I did not see the point.

While on vacation March 2010 I read the amazing book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Check out my book review here-  stevenshomler.com Born to Run -Book Review

Page 168 of that book almost made me jump out of my skin. “Running shoes may be the most destructive force to ever hit the human foot”.

That sentence and the  rest of chapter 25 shot a bolt of electricity through me. Everything I read conflicted with my head knowledge understanding about the whole running thing, yet all of the insane words I was pouring over resonated with me and really spoke to my gut.

Cool Tangent – The reason the information in chapter 25 spoke to my gut was because I was using the brain in my gut. Yesterday I had coffee with Joe, a friend of mine and we talked how both of us are intuitive people. During that discussion I told that Joe I had a book somewhere in my library that talked about the “other” brains we have.

This evening I was able find that book. Get Out of Your Own Way by Robert K. Cooper  www.robertkcooper.com . In that book (chapter 10 Use Your Brains – All Four of Them) Robert talks about  the 4 brains you have including the one in your gut otherwise known as the Enteric Nervous System – ENS. Check that book out – It’s pretty cool!

Anyways back to Chapter 25 of Born to Run. The more I read, the more “insane” comments I saw.

“But when my runners train barefoot, They run faster and suffer fewer injuries” Vin Lananna who is an NCAA Cross Country Coach of the Year winner and in only ten years he has coached his track and cross country teams to 5 NCAA Team Championships.

Vin is also quoted to say “we’ve shielded our feet from their natural position by providing more and more support” and when referring to a well know shoe companies shoes Vin says “You fix things that don’t need fixing. If you strengthen the foot by going barefoot, I think that you reduce the risk of Achilles and knee and plantar fascia problems”.

Dr Irene Davis  “I think perhaps the widespread plantar fasciitis in this country is partly due to the fact that we really do not allow the muscles in our feet to do what they are designed to to”

Steven Robbins, M.D. and Edward Waked, Ph.D. with Mcgill University – “According to our findings, currently available sport shoes…are too soft and thick, and should be redesigned if they are to protect humans performing sports”

I have had problems with my feet hurting, in fact in the fall of 2008 my left foot and left leg hurt so much I could not walk. The doctor told that I had big problems with my plantar fascia and with my arches and that I always would. I did recover by  the beginning of 2009 mainly by ignoring the doctor’s advice and going with my gut.

In Born to Run Christopher quotes an architect who says “the best to weaken an arch is to support it”. hmmm… my special running shoes were designed to support (weaken?) my arches.

My wife has jogged on and off the entire 15 years we have been married. She has always wanted me to run with her. The few times I have headed out with her it has been miserable for both of us. I was slow and my feet hurt and according to her my form was all wrong. Every couple of years I think that maybe this time I can jog with her. last year I had a cool pair of special running shoes and still no luck.

The way running is described in Born to Run fired my imagination and I remembered the way I ran when I was child and the joy I had doing it. I grew up on 220 acres and the nearest neighbor was 2 miles away. As  kid I covered a lot of distance just checking out the interesting parts of our property.

An insane though began to grow louder and louder in my head – maybe the problem was my running shoes, maybe if I got a pair of the barefoot running shoes talked about in Born to Run I could run well and maybe even enjoy it.

I got back from vacation and the same week I received my REI member refund. http://www.rei.com/membership

I took my membership refund and I went to REI and bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. (one of the barefoot running shoes talked about in Born to Run) http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/indexNA.cfm

Some of you may ask – if the point is to run barefoot why are you buying Barefoot Running Shoes? Barefoot running shoes provide your feet a little  protection from glass, sharp rocks. etrc.

The Tigard Oregon REI had a pair of FiveFingers KSO’s (Keep Stuff Out) in stock and I got em and I also got a cool hydration bottle/belt thing.

Then I came home put them on and I took off running down my street.

WOW!!! it was amazing. I could run fast, my feet did not hurt and I liked running for the first time in my adult life.

Since then I have been running with my wife and she loves it. Plus she says that my pace and my form are both very good.

I have been going a mile at a time so far – 3 -4 times a week . It looks like soon I will be increasing my distance. Simply amazing!!! I never thought that I would be able or willing to run one mile at a time let alone more than that!

I am looking forward to wearing my barefoot running shoes on some of the cool trials we have in OR. Like the hike to Ramona Falls.  http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Ramona_Falls_Hike

If you run or if you want to, I encourage you to buy and read the book Born to Run and check out the possbility of running “barefoot”.  Just google the term “barefoot running shoes” and you will find lots of info.

Barefoot Ted is one of the real life characters in Born to Run. Ted’s website provides helpful information on some of the different types of barefoot running shoes that are out there as well as lots of info on Barefoot Running. Check it out.

http://barefootted.com/

I will close this post with this great info from the Vibram FiveFingers website   http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/barefooting/barefoot_running.cfm

“When you go barefoot, your movements become the movements of a child—playful and sensitive, yet purposeful and confident. You experience the unbound joy of stepping, hopping, and running across any surface on earth, simply to get from here to there.

Vibram FiveFingers® allow you to relive that sensation. Unlike conventional shoes that insulate you from your surroundings, FiveFingers footwear deepens your connection to the earth and your surroundings. FiveFingers enhance your sense of touch and feel, while improving foot strength, balance, agility, and range of motion. Because wearing Vibram FiveFingers is so close to going barefoot, you’ll enjoy the health and performance benefits of barefooting without some of the risks.

Outdoor enthusiasts have found FiveFingers to be the ideal crossover shoe for multiple sports and activities—from ChiRunning and bouldering to kayaking and windsurfing.  Fitness enthusiasts use FiveFingers for core strength training, yoga and Pilates. Our customers continually discover new and creative uses for our alternative performance footwear.

The benefits of running barefoot have long been supported by scientific research, coaches, and athletes who’ve offered ample evidence that training without shoes allows you to run faster and further with fewer injuries.

Motion studies demonstrate that when running barefoot, one naturally lands on the forefoot, directly below your center of gravity. This results in optimum balance, increased stability, less impact, and greater propulsion. According to Dr. Ivo Waerlop of the Vibram Biomechanics Advisory Board, “Running in FiveFingers improves agility, strength, and equilibrium, plus it delivers sensory feedback that allows runners to make immediate corrections in their form. This greatly improves running efficiency.”

No footwear comes closer to recreating the experience and natural sensation of running barefoot than Vibram® FiveFingers. It delivers all the health and performance benefits of barefoot running—with less the risk of injury. Our patented Vibram® sole acts like a second skin to protect you from elements and obstacles, so you can reap the rewards of barefoot running.”

My other Barefoot Running related posts are

Born to Run – Book Review

Running Shoes Damage Your Feet – Run Barefoot (Insanity! or Maybe Not)

Barefoot Running Websites  – 5 Interesting Ones

Why Might Barefoot Running be Better For Your Feet?

Are Barefoot Running Shoes an Oxymoron?

Barefoot Running Shoe Options and Barefoot Running Tips

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3 Responses to Running Shoes Damage Your Feet – Run Barefoot! (Insanity! or Maybe Not…)

  1. Chris Galambos says:

    I ordered my Vibram Five Fingers Barefoot shoes from REI last week. They are the best selling line of shoes for REI right now and are backordered. I ordered the Sprint model. Once they arrive and I have a chance to try them out I will post an update…

  2. Thomas says:

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for visiting us at barefoot running! We hope you enjoyed the article. I believe that I have happened upon your site before via Google Alert. I enjoyed this article! Also, it was a VERY NICE surprise to see that you listed our Website at a top Barefoot Running Website. Thanks so much. We now have three writers and a great managing editor (Abbie, who you might meet on Twitter or Facebook). Our editorial calendar is solid. Can’t wait to get more content up and running. We are planning on a hard launch of the site at the end of May, or so. Enjoy running! -Thomas at Barefoot Running

  3. seriously looking into a pair vibrams, i always liked the thin shoes better than the bulky ones.

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