Having recently run the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay again I thought I would present a running post.
There is a relatively new trend in running called barefoot running. This trend is becoming so popular that even the shoe companies are getting in on it and marketing their own versions. Vibram 5 finger, Nike Free, Merrell Barefoot, Sockwa, etc…
No one incident can be credited with the genesis of this new trend. It has come in like a fad, person by person, but studies have been published indicating different footstrike patterns and possible injuries that modern shoes may cause. The modern running shoe only really began in the 1970s. As a result the new up and coming generation is the first ever to have been raised entirely with these new shoes. Science has not even had a full generation to determine the benefit or harm of these new technology shoes. Despite the youth of the sport shoe those supporters of barefoot running have already begun to doubt.
The premise behind barefoot running is that the intrinsic muscles, mechanoreceptors, ligaments and joints are all designed to move, receive and report stimuli. Just as we have found with our spine, too much support or rigidity is a bad thing. Our sports shoes limit that motion and stimuli in order to support our feet rather than just protect us from that thorn or sharp rock.
Let’s face it shoes were originally created to protect our feet from the cuts scrapes and just general discomfort of traversing terrain that was not comfortable. With that in mind unless you run on a soft, debris free, manufactured surface I recommend wearing shoes of some kind to protect your feet. From a health care point of view, running barefoot can lead to injuries, running with shoes can lead to other injuries, and too rapid a transition between the two can lead to possibly more severe injuries.
Without settled science, as a chiropractor my recommendation at this time is to protect your feet. Some people need more support than others. Run in what you feel comfortable and if you feel the need to change ,do so gradually start by walking in minimal shoes for a few weeks then try running for a few minutes a day in the new shoe. I don’t recommend barefoot, but many of the “barefoot” shoes do provide protection without supporting your foot. Give your feet a workout, but be safe about it.