Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is Running Barefoot On the Treadmill Bad For You?

English: barefoot running
English: barefoot running (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Barefoot running, as we have reported in the past, is a growing trend with equal benefits and disadvantages. Positive benefits have been reported as greater foot strength and a decreased risk of injury, as well as a lighter style of running which results in quicker running times. The January 2010 issue of "Nature" suggests that a change in the strike point on the foot while running barefoot can cause more harm than good. However, starting to run barefoot on a treadmill may be a good place to start.
Modern running shoes have increased cushioning and arch support which effectively place the foot on bed rest. The intrinsic muscles of the foot weaken, and thus the tendons of the foot lose tension and the arches fall. Barefoot running on a treadmill works the muscles of the foot and therefore absorbs an increased load. Working the muscles naturally, like through walking, can also strengthen the foot and ankle muscles.
In a study performed at the Institute of Bio-mechanics and Orthopaedics at Cologne, Germany, researchers found that barefoot runners land on the forefoot. Shod runners rear-strike, caused by the positioning of the cushioning in modern running shoes. Movement analyses show that forefoot and barefoot runners generate smaller forces than their shod running counterparts. Smaller forces on the foot may potentially protect the feet and lower leg from typically running impact injuries.
Jumping into barefoot running can be a great shock on your feet and ankles, but there are other risks as well. The shock and stress to your lower extremities can cause Achilles tendonitis calf strain and plantar fasciitis. Blisters are also a result of running barefoot because the skin on the feet can be very delicate. Think before you begin: If you don't have any foot problems currently, why should you switch to barefoot running? Are you just joining a fad?
Starting on a treadmill allows you to experience a new running style and transform your running strike. You will also begin on a softer surface that allows for a lower injury risk. Remember: Start slowly!
If you are a barefoot runner and have been experiencing pain, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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