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First 5K May 31, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running, Shoes , add a comment

This morning at 6:00 am I woke up to the sound of the alarm on my iPhone.  Today was my first “official” race with minimalist shoes and new stride.  The sky was beautiful and the temperature was a crisp 50° F.  I wasn’t expecting to win anything as I’m still working into my new stride and didn’t want to kill myself.  One thing I noticed right away in this photo . . . look at what part of the foot most of the people are landing on.  OUCH!

I don’t mean to say that my form is perfect . . . because looking at other images from the race, I’ve got a lot of improving to do, but notice I’m about to land on the forefoot of my left foot.  Much less impact than a heel strike.  I decided to go with the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) this morning as I knew I was going to be on the asphalt most of the time and I know my feet aren’t quite ready for barefoot on 100% asphalt.

Yes, lots of people asked me about my shoes.

Yes, lots of people gasped when I told them I usually run barefoot.

Come to think if it, this is the longest race I’ve ever participated in.  In high school, I ran track.  My events were the 100, 200, 400, and associated relays.  I always hated long distance running.  It hurt a bit in the lungs while I was running, but I’m feeling great now!

It was a bit humbling when my 80 year old neighbor passed me at the end of the second mile, but also inspiring since he had a great time.  That’s my goal . . . to be running and functional up till the day I die.

I’m Done! May 28, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Thoughts , 1 comment so far

I hate to make this post all about me, but today is a very special day for me.  I completed medical school today and NEVER have to go back.  The road has been long.  The road has been tough.  The experiences were varied, but I’m glad I’m done.  To keep this somewhat relevant to the blog, I can also say I walked a significant portion of this road barefoot.  Besides stumbling into barefoot running during the last leg of my medical school journey, on the island I was quite often barefoot around the house.

Life is good!  Now it’s on to residency.

“Barefoot” in The O.R. May 27, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Thoughts , 2comments

Today was the last time I will ever scrub in for surgery as a medical student (two days left and I leave that title behind) . . . and since I’m going into Psychiatry, I’ll probably never scrub in again.  I took the opportunity to have another almost barefoot experience.  I wore my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) in the O.R. today.  Of course, they were covered up by shoe covers, but the experience was reaffirming.

I’ve written extensively on the feedback your body receives when you are barefoot or nearly barefoot.  This feedback is essential to being more in touch with the environment around you.  Increased balance and increased awareness of your body are a couple benefits.

Here is my experience.  If I can’t be barefoot and I can get away with it, I wear my VFFs.  I love wearing them around.  They are most certainly a conversation starter, and I love sharing my passion about barefooting.  I noticed something throughout the day.  Normally I begin feeling my feet hurt in the later part of the day which would last all night, I noticed periodically that one foot would ache a bit which signaled me to shift my weight . . . I would stand in a different way.  This happened repeatedly throughout the day.  What I notice looking back over the day is that my feet don’t feel like I’ve been standing on hard, shiny, operating room floors all day.

By allowing my arches and feet to do their job and tell me how I should be standing, I didn’t end up having painful feet at the end of the day.  It’s not going to win me a Nobel Prize, but this experience is certainly one that is very supportive of the barefoot life . . . allowing your body to function as it should.

Enjoy your soles!

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part I May 26, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Advantages of Barefoot Running, Running , add a comment

What are the advantages of barefoot running?

Advantage #1

It doesn’t cost a dime (i.e. no expensive shoes to buy)

Barefoot Running Clinic May 25, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Running , add a comment

Just in case you read this in time . . . Michael Sandler, the author of Barefoot Running, is giving a FREE barefoot running clinic in Salt Lake City tonight at 7:00 pm.  It will be at the Salt Lake Running Company.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend due to my schedule not allowing it, but would love to have been there.  I’m loving his book and learning a ton.

Enjoy listening to your soles!

Learn How to Listen May 24, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , 1 comment so far

If there’s one thing I’ve taken out of Barefoot Running through chapter 4, it’s LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Michael Sandler does a great job at describing what we truly have within us.  He describes kicking off your shoes akin to plugging your feet into a supercomputer.  I’ve mentioned it before that proprioception, or knowing where our body is in space, is a key ingredient to our balance and he does a great job at tying things together.  He doesn’t recommend a rigid training schedule . . . he recommends listening to your body which is going to tell you to go slow when transitioning to barefoot running.  If you don’t feel like your body can handle the miles . . . stop and go home.  If you’re feeling extra energetic, keep going!  So far, I’m giving it a thumbs up and looking forward to learning more.

Happy running!

You Don’t Like Fish? May 21, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Diet, Health , add a comment

I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . neither do did I.  Still, I’ve been trying to incorporate fish into my diet more frequently.

One of the key parts of the Mediterranean diet is having fish or shellfish two times a week or more.  There are essential nutrients found in fish that have many health benefits (essential fatty acids).  There really isn’t anyone in my family that can say they like fish.  In fact, more than one member of my family will tell you they are allergic to fish just to get out of eating it.  However, last Sunday afternoon, I whipped up some fish that converted everyone in the house . . . they’re all fish lovers now.  Emily thought I should share the recipe . . . so here you go.

Emily introduced me to allrecipes.com when we lived on Saba.  It’s a great site.  Here’s the recipe I used.

I found this recipe by putting in the meat I was using and then searched the site for recipes.  Once I searched, I arranged by rating and found the one with the combined highest number of reviews and rating combined.  It’s hard to go wrong!

Bon appetit!

Barefoot Running, The Book May 20, 2010

Posted by Emily in : Running , add a comment

You know, it’s not fun to have David gone all week.  In fact, I can ONLY take one more week of medical school rotations before I QUIT!  🙂  (He finishes med school on the 28th of May.)

I’m always trying to entice David to drive the three hour commute every day so we (meaning our adorable children) can see him more than just on the weekends.  I mean, what is a three hour commute everyday?  NOTHING I tell you.  NOTHING.

A special little package arrived in the mail this week for David, and to my surprise, I actually called him and asked him for permission to open it. (Usually, I claim wife rights on everything and open anything that has his name on it. After all, what’s mine is mine and what’s his is mine too, right?)

He was just as surprised as I was that I just didn’t go ahead and dive right into opening it.  (Hey.  I’m making small strides in the right direction . . .)

David pre-ordered this book a couple of months ago.  (Look!  It’s signed!)

It only took like, YEARS to come, (please, don’t do the math on that one) but it FINALLY came.

I dangled this book in front of him like a carrot to a reindeer, but he still didn’t put the petal to the metal and high tail it back to Utah County to retrieve it.  (And trust me, he’s been WAITING for this book to come!)

Actually, that’s good.  Right?  I should be concerned if a book motivated him to make the long drive home and not our sassy, sweet smelling children, right?


I kind of told him that I might read it before him.  Seriously, he knows I’m kidding.  I mean, WHO AM I KIDDING?  I don’t even have time to got the bathroom alone, (remember how I’ve been single parenting it during the week for the last three months?) where would I find time to read a book?

Looks like a good read and  you should go pick it up!

Let’s Talk About Arch Support May 19, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running, Shoes , 1 comment so far

I walked into the store and the clerk asked me, “What can I do for you?”

I scanned the walls and found exactly what I was looking for . . . Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).  I said, “I saw on the VFF website that y’all carry those shoes,” motioning to their small VFF display on the wall.  I knew what I was looking for.  I had recently made the decision to incorporate running into my life.  I didn’t want to go the traditional route because, let’s face it, I’m anything but traditional.  I had heard of the shoes and read on their website that the Sprint, KSO, KSO Trek, and the Flow were recommended for running.

The clerk asked me, “Did you read Born to Run?”


“That’s actually why these have been so hard to get a hold of recently, but we have the largest selection in Utah.  We’ve carried these since they came out.”

As I picked up the KSO I asked, “Do these have good arch support?”

Now, why did I ask this question?  Most likely for the same reason you have asked the same question.  I’m a product of advertising.  Do we really need arch support in a shoe?  I’ll address that in a bit.  The fact is, VFFs have absolutely NO arch support.  There is no padding.  The point is that these shoes allow your feet to function the way they are supposed to function.  In an extensive and well written essay, Dr. Joseph Froncioni, an orthopedic surgeon,  references several studies and summarizes that the “shodding” of our feet has several deleterious effects.  He references one study by Dr. B. Marti of 5,038 runners.  (Note that this study was done in 1989 so adjust the cost of shoes.)  He found that the incidence of injuries in runners using shoes costing more than $95 was more that twice as great as in runners using shoes costing less than $40.  What is common in the more expensive and more high-tech shoes?  Softer cushioning, greater arch support, more foot control, etc, etc, etc.  Multiple studies demonstrate the increasing age of a shoe results in less cushioning to the foot and reduced injuries.  It all comes down to feeling.  Dr. Froncioni poses this question and answer:

Why are super shock-absorbing athletic shoes causing more running injuries?   Dr. Steven Robbins from the Centre for Studies in Aging at McGill University in Montreal is the man who came up with the answer.  Dr. Robbins pointed out that the human lower extremity is not a delicate, rigid, passive structure requiring ‘packaging’ to protect it from impact.  This becomes blatantly obvious when one observes the nearly complete absence of foot disorders in unshod populations.  People who go around barefoot just don’t get plantar fasciitis or any of the other lower extremity injuries so common in shod populations.  The lower extremity, he points out, is a rugged, flexible, active, well designed (theologically) structure.  Wire this structure to a spinal cord and a brain and what you’ve got is a system fully capable of handling the impacts of running.

He notes that the impact of a heel strike form of running can generate a force equal to 2.5 times the runner’s weight at the foot and up to 7 times at the hip.  That’s a lot of impact!  There are several key components at play in the foot when the “barefoot” stride is analyzed.

First, and most obvious, is the fact that you feel your impact.  Second, and not quite as obvioius, is the motion of the foot as it impacts the ground.  Take off your shoes and jog 100 feet.  You may start out landing on your heel, but I guarantee when you get to the end of the 100 feet you’ll be coming down on the front part of your foot.  This is indicative of the sensory feedback you’ve just opened up by taking off your shoes.  Your body just adjusted to the environment.  The arch is meant to move and absorb in conjunction with the achilles, calf muscles, quadriceps, etc.

Next question.  Can my feet handle running barefoot after living a life in shoes?  Dr. Froncioni asks a similar question and shows us the answer in his essay:

Is it possible to rehabilitate the weakened muscles of a normally shod runner?  It certainly is according to another excellent study by Dr. Robbins (1987).  He asked 17 normally shod recreational runners to gradually increase barefoot activity both at home and outdoors over a period of several weeks and to maintain barefoot activity for about four months.  The runners’ feet were examined, measured and x-rayed at regular intervals to detect changes.  Results showed marked improvement in the anatomy and function of the arch.  The authors concluded that the normally shod foot is capable of rehabilitation of foot musculature.

So, the answer to the above question . . . yes, our feet can be rehabilitated.  However, as I’ve mentioned before . . . make that transition very slowly.  You’re going to use muscles you haven’t used in a looooooong time.  You’ll feel it the next day, especially in your lower calf.  You need to expose your feet to the normal stride a bit at a time over a long period of time so they get the signal to start rebuilding.  Listen to your body and follow Michael Sandler’s instructions on transitioning into VFFs here.

Now, go enjoy the world the way you were born . . . barefoot.

Timpanogos Cave Barefoot . . . Well Almost May 18, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Shoes , add a comment

We decided it would be fun to hike to Timpanogos Cave last Saturday.  Of course, both of us wore our Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).  We got stopped on the trail more than once by people wondering about our, “shoes or socks or whatever those things are.”  It was a great minimalist experience.  I took note how wearing the shoes affected my footfall and how I ultimately felt at the end of the trek.  Even though I wasn’t running, my footfall was predominantly on the forefoot which helped me to tread lightly . . . even with my tank-of-a-boy strapped to my back in a snugli backpack (which we had to end up leaving at the junction of the trail as you can’t bring a backpack with exposed metal into the cave).

My legs and feet are not quite there yet.  I was aching when we finished the trip up and down.  It’s a 1.5 mile trail with some pretty steep inclines that totaled over 1100 vertical feet each way.  I didn’t really have any foot pain until we hit the way down.  The impact on the balls of my feet was evident.  My dogs were certainly barking by the time we got to the car, but it wasn’t that annoying type of barking that makes you want to call animal control on your neighbor’s dog . . . it was that cute barking of a puppy that just joined your family.  I reminded myself that the aching or pain I felt is there for a purpose.  It’s there to educate me.  It allows me to alter my stride so I don’t ultimately injure myself.  Multiple times a day in medicine, patients are told to listen to their bodies.  Don’t go beyond what you feel you should.  The recovery has been quick and I’m happy we went . . . almost barefoot.

I’m continually inspired to find new ways to exercise and develop my feet in order to prepare them for a long, healthy, and active life!