Recently a patient came in to see me complaining of foot pain. During the health history I found out that he had been wearing ‘barefoot’ type running shoes for a few weeks (around the same time his pain developed). We did a thorough bio-mechanical assessment of his legs/feet and found that both feet were very flat. Because of his fallen arches he was overpronating (ankles buckling inward when walking/running).
This particular patient was actually putting himself at risk by wearing barefoot runners due to his poor foot/ankle mechanics. In fact – in order to correct the issue we made him custom foot orthotics to put into his running shoes.
So back to the question – Should you run Barefoot? Only if you have perfect lower limb mechanics. What does that mean? You should get assessed by a qualified health practitioner who has expertise in this area of the body. They can let you know if you’d be a good candidate.
Having practiced for over 10 years treating athletes and office workers in downtown Toronto I would estimate that only about 20% of the population have good bio-mechanics and could safely go with minimalist runners. If you would like to try out a pair – ease into them. If you regularly run 5-10 kms don’t run that far initially with the barefoot shoes. Try running for only 1km the first day and see how your body feels 24-48hrs after. From there you can increase the time you run with the shoes in small ‘steps’ – pun intended! 🙂
As a side note – having completed a 4th knee surgery – my surgeon and I have decided that my running career is over after competing in only one race – the GoodLife Toronto Half Marathon so this may be the last picture ever taken of me running 🙁
I will, however, continue to help Toronto runners and triathletes achieve their health and fitness goals. I am preparing quite a few for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon and other upcoming races.
For anyone else like me who can’t run you may find comfort in this fascinating article: Were We Really Born to Run?
This post is also featured on The GoodLife Blog.