Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bare Feet

After reading Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run where they discuss and even advocate barefoot running I just had to try it. I do run quite often barefoot but that's on the sand and grass. I'm a skeptic and I just had to give it a try on the road and see if, or how much my feet would hurt.
I started at Kala Kaua and Kapahulu and ran on the sidewalk along Kapiolani Park, up Diamond head road up to the lookout then turned left at Triangle park and ran up to the Community College.There is a dirt trail on the left side of the road where I ran down and then to the sidewalk and past the bus stop and back to where I started. A bit over 41/2 miles on some rather hot and far less than smooth surfaces.
My feet felt fine when I finished and still feel "normal" a day after.
Read the book, you'll be glad you did. Scroll down a few posts back for a full review.
Am I advocating barefoot running?
Here's the story. Running in heavily padded shoes and shoes with lots of arch support makes your feet weak. You don't want weak feet. So if you aren't certain that your feet can handle it, start by just walking barefoot in the sand or on grass. Slowly strengthen your feet.When your feet get stronger buy cheaper shoes or shoes with no bulky heel or arch support.
Running barefoot on a hard surface like concrete or asphalt will quickly correct your stride. Doing anything where you put too much pressure on the wrong part of your foot ( and thus putting excessive pressure up the line to your ankle, knee, hip and back) will HURT! And you will correct for that FAST! You will learn the correct way to run, correct being the way you can run fast and far without hurting yourself.
The book brings up a now old study where the researchers were looking for reasons why runners were getting hurt. Extensive info from many thousands of runners found only one significant correlation. Running injury was related to distance run? No. The type of surface run on? No. The speed? No The times run per week? No. The only significant fact was that the runners getting hurt had the most expensive running shoes. Running with heavily padded and overly arch supported shoes keeps the pain down to just below the noticeable threshold. But over time and distance something gives and you eventually feel the pain. Run in cheap shoes and running the wrong way hurts (good!) and you correct your stride to something that will keep you injury free in the long run.


Sunny said...

Hey Jeff, good advice! There is a tribe in mexico where everyone not only runs barefoot but also run (great distances in canyons) all the time, they do not walk anywhere. They are an extraordinary people who only now are being introduced to the modern world. There is a book written by a guy who spent six months or so with them. (I'll get you the name and author soon)

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