Since barefoot running is such a hot topic and since I had an expert at my disposal, of course I took the opportunity for some good brain-picking.
While the physical therapist was measuring my feet for orthotics, I just had to ask what he thought of barefoot running. He laughed a bit and said he just knew that question was coming.
After reading Born to Run, I was really interested in the mechanics of running barefoot vs. the technology of shoes. Even though everything the author said in Born to Run made sense, I just had to ask a “real life” person about it.
The physical therapist didn’t really give me the answer I was looking for (“It’s awesome!”), but he did bring up some very valid points that I appreciated hearing. Especially since he was in the midst of measuring my feet for clunky orthotics that have to be worn in shoes…
He made two good points to consider about barefoot running:
– It’s not really a trend. Well it is. But not a new one- a push for barefoot running comes up every 10 years or so. It alternates popularity, much like everything else in our lives.
– Running barefoot is great- if you’re built for it. Ultramarathoners are ultramarathoners for many reasons, but one of them is quite essential: their bodies are built for it. The same goes for running barefoot- it’s great, if your feet are built for it. The structure of some people’s feet just isn’t going to hold up to scooting around barefoot- that could lead to injury.
There’s one part of Born to Run that talks about how the muscles and structure of your feet change & your arch can become higher. I still question this point- can feet really adapt, or does it depend on your foot structure to start with?
I literally walk around barefoot 98% of the time. I haven’t worn in heels in 19 months. Yet I still need orthotics?
Obviously there are different sides to the concept, like any good story, and I still have questions. But this part made me happy and content for the time being:
The PT pointed out that barefoot running is great for training. He brought attention to the idea that that’s why minimalist shoes like Nike Frees were developed- for training. Whether you run barefoot or in stability shoes, running barefoot occasionally (such as strides in the grass) can be a good training exercise.
So until I get my hands (feet?) on my orthotics and get to give them an honest try, I’ll sit content with the idea of “barefoot training”. You know, once I’m training…. 😉
What are your thoughts on barefoot running vs shoes, etc?