Is “Barefoot” Running Dangerous for Your Feet?
A few years ago, inspired by the book Born to Run and other stories of native tribes who can run for miles and miles in bare feet or minimal footwear, many runners started to take up running in bare feet themselves, or at lease in minimalist shoes that mimic the natural foot. Unfortunately, this has led to many injuries in the calf, foo, and ankle. Here in our office, we can help you solve these problems.
Common Barefoot Injuries
Just like with any regular sport, and especially running, a number of injuries can occur with minimalist running shoes. These include:
- Pulled muscles, especially in the calf
- Achilles tendinitis and other problems with the Achilles tendon
- Stress fractures
While the seriousness of these injuries can vary depending on your personal body, your running style, and your exact shoe, more intense injuries can leave you out of the game for several weeks and even months.
Why Are These Injuries Occuring?
Running barefoot uses different muscles than running in shoes. Often, people who switch from one to the other too fast develop injuries, as they are not letting their body ease into the new running style. For example, imagine trying to run a marathon if you haven’t trained for it. It is a similar situation in that your body is more likely to develop an injury because the muscles, bones, and other anatomical structures are simply not used to going through those movements at those angles and at those pressures and speeds.
It is the same with barefoot running. If you don’t slowly ease into the new running style—which uses shorter steps and lands on the middle or front of your foot instead of the heel—you can cause serious injuries. Not being very conscientious about the switch can put too much pressure on your foot or cause you to land on your heel that isn’t prepared to take that shock without padding.
If you want to try running, break yourself and your feet in very slowly, walking and going short distances (no more than a mile every other day at first). Just like with any exercise, stop immediately if something starts to hurt. Be patient, as this transition can take months. If you have any questions, or if—unfortunately–you have developed an injury, come in to our office, and we’ll help you on the road to recovery.