By: Dr. Amir Mahmud
A patient recently asked me “Is it ok to run barefoot?” My response to her was “yes and no”. It is ok to run barefoot if that is how you have walked and ran for most of your life. In parts of the world people do not have access to shoes and therefore walk barefoot all day long. In these cases their central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and bodies have adapted to the altered gait, therefore not relying on an arch support or cushioning of the shoes. On the other hand in most developed countries as soon as we can walk we are put into shoes. From the first steps that we take our brain receives signals to rely on an artificial arch support. As we start to adapt to those signals and our bodies develop we become accustomed to a certain type of gait. So what do you think will happen if you suddenly decide to take off your shoes and run barefoot OR if you put that person who has walked all his life barefoot into a pair of shoes? What happens is that you start to alter your gait – over pronate/supinate, cause abnormal stress in your foot, ankle, knees, hips, low back and all the way up the spine. As a result of this abnormal stress up the kinetic chain you are more prone to injuries that you have never had before. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, ankle sprain, meniscus injuries and back pain are just a few to name. Having said all this, I am not stating that you can’t run barefooted. I am stating that in order to avoid injuries, you need the proper training to adapt to your new biomechanics. This training WILL take quit a long time and wont happen over night. So if you do decide to start running barefooted, be prepared for some aches and pains. And remember, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
If you have any questions, would like your biomechanics/injuries evaluated, or would like an overall assessment stop by our office and we will gladly help you!!!
Dr. Amir Mahmud is a Sports Chiropractor at CSI (Chiropractic Sports Institute) in Westlake Village. Dr. Amir has vast experience working with athletes both professional and Amateur. He is the current Team Doctor for the Newbury Park HS Lacrosse team and travels with the Mobile CSI Sports Medicine team caring for athletes across southern California. He can be reached at (805) 371-0737. www.gotcsi.com