Barefoot Runners

1

Thinking about it, but have weird feet. (Read 3107 times)

    Hi everyone,

     

    I'm contemplating trying barefoot running/minimalist shoe running, initially as a small part of my running, but, if it works, allowing it to play a more major part in my miles.

     

    A bit of history.  I'm a mild over-pronator and I do heel strike, but not heavily.  I'm fairly light at 104-106 lbs and 5ft 3. I have been running in Mizuno WI5s (and before that in Neutral Adidas Supernova).  However last year I developed a quad/groin injury which was most likely caused by ramping the miles up too much, but, may also have been related to my running style.  This was followed by a brief return to running before I sprained my ankle whilst walking with a heavy pack.  I ruptured two ligaments in my left ankle (CFL and ATFL) and this set off accessory navicular syndrome in my left foot, and also, to a lesser extent, in my right.  Accessory navicular sydrome is caused by an extra bone attached to my navicular causing irritation of the posterior tibial tendon, and often leads to surgery to remove the bone.  They think that the sprain caused the bone to dislodge slightly, setting off the tendon irritation.  In terms of how it felt, I had no obvious pain from the ruptured ligaments, but the ANS caused severe pain in the arch of my foot (I have relatively high arches, many people have flat feet with ANS though) and on the extra bone itself.

     

    I spent 4 months totally unable to run.  When I initially tried my leg would collapse.  Walking and standing were very painful too.  I was put in an aircast boot for 6 weeks (2 weeks after the injury until 8 weeks post-injury) and then came out of this and was given orthotics to wear in all my shoes.  After 2 months in the orthotics the pain was a lot less and I have been slowly trying to get back into mileage.  I am running much slower and far fewer miles.

     

    However I am running in my orthotics and I am running in "heavy" shoes (the WI5s). 

     

    I would hope that trying barefoot running or running in minimalist shoes would help my recovery.  I really don't know whether the orthotics and heavy shoes are going to be a longterm solution.  Obviously I don't know whether barefoot/minimalist shoe running will be a solution either.  However, in some ways, I would hope that actually learning to run more efficiently, exerting less impact on my feet, and building up my foot strength could all help to prevent ANS from getting worse/re-occurring.

     

    I currently walk around at home in barefeet and I have relatively strong feet through rock climbing.  I haven't done any barefoot running though.  I do have a pair of racing flats, however when I tried running in these I still found I had to think hard about not heel-striking.  It is interesting however that my foot hurts the least when I am walking around with barefeet, even with the orthotic in my shoes I can get mild pain when walking/standing.

     

    So, after all that.  I suppose I'm just after any advice/experience on transitioning to barefoot running with a known foot issue. Or do you think I am not cut out for going barefoot because of the nature of my foot issues?

     

    Having read the site I am guessing that it will be best to try to go barefoot before I try running in flats.  Would it be better to do this outside, around a park (there is pavement) and in totally barefeet, rather than fivefingers?  I don't own any fivefingers and am not sure I want to spend £80-£100  on something quite yet.  I don't have access to a treadmill at the moment.

     

    Any advice would be gratefully received.

     

    Thank you very much for reading.

     "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."

      Well, heck - try it (barefoot) and see!  That's what I did a few months ago, with the understanding that if it seemed to help me, I would continue and increase barefoot mileage just a little at a time; otherwise I was prepared to give it up.  My PF injuries are 90% gone now which I attribute to (1) a gradual buildup of BF running, (2) specific daily exercises to increase lower leg strength, and (3) getting away from "regular" running shoes. Maybe it will help you, too or maybe not, but I think it wouldn't take long for you to notice a difference if it led to improvement. Your form will be more natural right away barefoot. My wife says I clomp, clomp, clomp when I run in shoes, but she can't hear my footstrikes while barefooted.

       

      My feet aren't like yours, but they too are very different: Left foot - about 11" long, medium width, high flexible arch.  Right foot - (I had surgery when I was 14 for hammer toes on this foot) is about 9 3/4" long, extra wide, very high and very rigid arch. I considered Vibram FFs, but they recommend foot length discrepancies be no more that 1/16". My personal experience is that I've had injuries with shoes, and none without (plus it feels so much better to me).  So now I'm either barefoot or in minimalist shoes, and wearing minimalist shoes at work and when running errands. The one thing I haven't done yet is get outside more for my barefooting, but that will change soon.

       

      Most people, including doctors, who have looked at my feet immediately declared that I needed all sorts of specialized shoes, orthotics, and special treatments. Turns out I just needed to be barefoot instead. Maybe it will help you too.  Good luck!  

      "I can do 440 in 220"    Half Fanatic #846    "90% of running is half mental"    If I collapse, please pause my Garmin

       

        Thanks havanarnr.  Excellent news that this seems to be working so well for you.  Good luck on getting outside more. 

         

        You're right, I should just give it a try.  It's a bit damp/cold here at the moment, but I will head to the park at the weekend and just play over a very short distance.  As you say, there is only one way to find out.

         

        I think I am just paranoid that after 4 months out due to injury that I will bring something on again, or accelerate the decline towards needing surgery.  However I am well aware that I could be doing this by running too heavily in "normal" shoes. 

         

        I'll post to let you know if I do get the guts up to go out.  In the meantime you can have a picture of my feet a week after I sprained my ankle...I have cankles so my ankles are chunky anyway, but as you can see, there is no obvious swelling of the ankle.  The bone on the foot however is quite prominent and is like that still.

         

         "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."

          Hi Sarah

           

          I wondered how long it would be before you found yourself over here!

           

          As you know, I am new to BF running and am just getting used to it.  However, I have already found that when running BF I don't need to think about my feet - I just naturally land on the ball of my foot.  My heel then lowers towards / to the ground.  This feels very natural for me now.  I can also feel my feet getting stronger, and the benefits are starting to show in my regular "shod" running. 

           

          Once I am happy with how the BF is going, I will start to do more in minimalist shoes - I am starting to hate "built-up, motion control, heavy shoes".

           

          Give it a go - but take it slow.

            Eeep, busted! 

             

            I really am going to give this a try.  I'll run on the pavement in the park on Saturday or Sunday....once I've got my weekend run in clumpy shoes out of the way.

             

            I'm not able to hate clumpy shoes yet, but I do have a nagging feeling when I run in them (plus orthotics) that I'm really not doing myself any favours in the long term.  Apparently, when I first started running again I didn't heel strike (or so the husband says), I seem to have developed that over time. 

             

            I tried running in flats on Sunday last week and the problem was that they still had enough in the heel that meant heel-strikes were possible and not jarring.  I had to really think about running on my forefoot, and that actually made things feel a bit awkward.  It wasn't painful though, just had slightly achy calves the next day.

             

            Lets hope my feet are nice and brave with the cold weather.  This is when I could do with a treadmill...

             "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."


            Duncan

               

              I'm not able to hate clumpy shoes yet, but I do have a nagging feeling when I run in them (plus orthotics) that I'm really not doing myself any favours in the long term.  Apparently, when I first started running again I didn't heel strike (or so the husband says), I seem to have developed that over time. 

               

               

              Lets hope my feet are nice and brave with the cold weather.  This is when I could do with a treadmill...

               Sarah, get yourself some beach shoes:

              http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/LADIES-PDQ-AQUA-SOCKS-BEACH-SWIM-SHOES-TOGGLE-NG-SIZE-7_W0QQitemZ370326554151QQcmdZViewItemQQptZWomen_s_Shoes?hash=item56392ec627#ht_1621wt_754

              As long as it is a degree or two above freezing you can run outside without socks, your feet warm up quickly especially if you have hat/ gloves etc.

              It is a good way of easing into BF/ Minimal running while it is still cold.

              Nice to see you here BTW

              It's strange how you start to dislike cushioned shoes after I while, I can't stand them now.

                Those are a great idea, thanks!  I do have some wetsuit booties for kayaking...I just need to hunt them out.   If not I'll be going for chilly feet this weekend, but will get something like the ones you have linked to for the next outing.

                 

                MTA:  I might rethink the naked feet if I can't find my booties and it is really cold though as I don't want to lose all sensation and therefore run badly because of numb feet.

                 "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."

                  Just thought I'd post to say I did go out barefooted today.

                   

                  I started off in my flats for about 0.25 miles, and found that I really had to think about trying to forefoot strike (note trying, as opposed to just doing).  I was with my husband and he also commented that I was scuffing my left foot (this is the foot that was injured). 

                   

                  As I wasn't able to judge how to run naturally whilst still in shoes, we decided I may as well go totally barefooted.  It was about 0C but didn't feel too chilly.  I didn't run for long, only 0.2 miles, but it felt brilliant.  I didn't have to think at all about how to run, I just ran.  My husband ran behind, to the side and in front of me, so was able to check out my form.  I was landing on the forefoot, then bringing the heel down, and then moving back off.  My feet were also landing under me, rather than in front of me (in shoes I can over stride).  All I could tell was that it felt really good, didn't hurt my foot, and I could also feel that my heel wasn't hitting the ground until after the forefoot.

                   

                  I then put the flats back on and just ran a bit more in them.  Interestingly I found it much easier to run with a forefoot strike (still had to think, but not to anywhere near the same extent) and my left foot had ceased the scuffing. 

                   

                  We didn't want to push it on the first outing, so I only ran 0.8 miles in total (flats, barefoot, flats), but I am really pleased with how it all went. 

                   

                  And yes, even after such a short distance my calves (especially my right one) do feel a bit tight.

                   

                  Thanks for the encouragement to just get out and try it.

                   

                  I'll have another go next weekend. Next time I will also try to run slower as I was "just running" today and this seems to involve me going faster than I intended (whilst coming back from injury I have been trying to minimize the stress I put my foot under by slowing my pace).

                   "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."

                  Running in Socks


                    Awesome!

                       

                       I'm interested to see how this pans out.  I can't get over how good running  barefoot felt though.

                       "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."


                      Duncan

                         

                         I'm interested to see how this pans out.  I can't get over how good running  barefoot felt though.

                         I'm excited!

                        I don't want to get boring but keep it slow. I had to be really disciplined throughout last year and run to a plan and build incrementally. It is worth it as you get stronger and stronger without pushing it. I still back off a bit if I feel any sort of twinge.

                        It is a liberating feeling though!

                          I'm excited too!

                           

                          Will definitely be taking it slow though.  As I am currently trying to slowly build up my mileage anyway and I will now have one day as the barefoot/minimal day. The mileage will be rising very slowly on this, 0.25 mile increments to begin with,  but to let my legs adjust I hope to be able to bring in a second day of the week where I also run a very short distance barefoot/minimal too (probably tagged onto the end of my shortest mid week easy run.

                           

                          If you see my log showing me being an idiot feel free to let me know though.

                           

                          I walk around barefoot a lot as it is, but I am going to make more effort to do this too.  I've also been hinting that a nice pair of fivefingers for running or Terra Plana shoes for walking to work and wearing at work might be a good B'day present from my husband

                           "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."