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Will barefoot running help prevent injuries?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hey RIF REVers, 

Barefoot running versus supportive shoes is very much black and white in the eyes of many people. NOT ME.

First of all, I’ll start by saying I learned to run well in barefoot footwear... Vibrams to be exact. And in the wake of the controversies with vibram in the past two weeks, I find this topic highly relevant.

Vibrams really helped to accelerate my learning because barefoot running can help to improve your understanding of how you move. HOW? Well, your feet are very ticklish. Aka, there are many nerve cells. And these nerve cells provide the feedback (proprioception) that makes us automatically adapt to maximise absorption and prevent injury, and move efficiently. In a nut shell, they don't make you a better run, but they kind of force you to become one.

The problems I had were - AFTER AN HOUR OR SO THEY MADE MY FEET A BIT SORE (on road). Tigers don't run on concrete, but if they did, I'm sure they'd need tiger podiatrists. People have, up until the past hundred/ couple of hundred years, run on softer surfaces. And we, in my opinion, aren't fuller adapted to running on concrete. Add to that - our adaptation since the eighties has been to resolve this by wearing 'comfortable' shoes. However, comfortable shoes often means thicker shoes, which from an injury perspective = less nerve cell stimulation (proprioception) and feedback and this has caused a wave of lazy runners throughout western cultures and beyond. We VERY OFTEN over-rely on our shoes to provide all of the support and NOT AT ALL on using our body to protect ourselves from injury.

There's certainly a place for barefoot running shoes, and I thoroughly enjoy them on road for run under an hour and on trails, but in terms of running long distances on hard surfaces, I certainly prefer to have something with a bit of comfort, however fully relying on my body to protect myself from injuries and, using my knowledge of movement to respond to protect injuries instead of becoming lazy with my posture and further increasing my chances of injuries onsetting.

So there's room for comfort and barefoot running shoes, but there are times when one is more suited, for sure. The key point is regardless of what you're wearing you can 100% RUN INJURY-FREE IN ANY PAIR OF SHOES AND THE CRUCIAL THING TO UNDERSTANDING IS HOW TO PREVENT INJURIES USING YOUR BODY INSTEAD OF RELYING ON YOUR FOOTWEAR. THIS HOLDS SO MANY RUNNERS FROM A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH.

Food for thought RIFREVers


Warning: This blog is intended as a starting point for runners to understand their body and begin to address weaknesses and tension that can lead to injury. It does not constitute advice and is not a treatment tool. If you have any health condition or injury whatsoever, check with your personal health care practitioner before attempting any strategy listed. Use at your own risk and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.



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