The barefoot running and minimalist shoe wear has become a hot topic over the past 5 years as runners have searched for answers to their ongoing foot and shoe issues.
Ever since Born To Run by Christopher McDougal was published in 2009, podiatrists have been asked for their opinion on the barefoot movement. The doctors of Gotham Footcare have always been careful to research and understand the risks and benefits of any new sports medicine idea before giving our opinion.
The issue here is that there is a lack of research properly run prospective, double-blind studies. Most of the research has come out of shoe company sponsored studies and physiology research labs. Even the subject of the benefits of forefoot/midfoot strike versus heel strike during running has not been adequately answered.
There is no simple answer to whether or not we recommend barefoot running or minimalist shoes.
The variables involved for each particular patient’s situation makes it difficult to give any blanket statement on the matter. We like to ask our patients very specific questions if they are interested in trying barefoot or minimalist running:
While Gotham Footcare does not advocate completely abandoning your tried-and-true running shoes for barefoot or minimalist shoes, we do recognize that minimalist shoe running can have the benefit of strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the feet and decreasing pressure on the knees while running.
Gotham Footcare believes that it can be used as an additional training tool for very fit athletes who are experienced runners. We do not recommend barefoot running or minimalist shoes for the novice runner looking to lose weight with a new running and/or exercise program.
We have a protocol for starting minimalist shoe running:
Gotham Footcare recommends a 8 to 10-week transition while slowly increasing your distance. DO NOT EXCEED 1 MILE for any barefoot run during your first week.
We recommend starting by performing 10% of your typical run barefoot. You can increase the distance by another 10% every week thereafter. If you start to feel pain then reduce the percentage of increase.
After understanding a patient’s motivation and running history, we assess some critical physical exam factors:
We also inform out patients that there are some very real risks involved in barefoot and minimalist shoe running:
With this in mind, we do not recommend barefoot or minimalist running to runners suffering with:
At Gotham Footcare in NYC, we strive at recognizing your individual needs and desired outcomes while formulating an effective and personalized treatment plan with the highest quality care available.
What sets Gotham Footcare apart from other podiatry offices is our dedication to providing you with the education you need to make well-informed decisions regarding your care. Regardless of what your foot and ankle trouble may be, at Gotham Footcare our team will work tirelessly to help you feel better. At Gotham Footcare, we help you put your best foot forward.