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“Can’t You Get Parasites by Going Barefoot?” June 29, 2010

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

Chances are, if you’ve told anyone about your desire to try running barefoot you’ve heard that question.  So, can you get infected by a parasite by running or walking around barefooted?  I hate to say, but the answer is . . . yes.  The parasite you’re at risk for acquiring when going around barefoot is hookworm.  Pretty gross, huh?  Don’t let this stop you from kicking off your shoes.  Even with this bad news, I’ve got some good news to share.  Although going barefoot is a risk factor for a hookworm infection, it’s not the only risk factor.  Nor is it the most important risk factor.  It is, however, probably the most easily changeable risk factor in hookworm infections.  Hookworm infection is acquired through skin exposure to larvae in soil contaminated with human feces.  Honestly, how many of you can say that this applies to you?  Hookworm infection in the United States is rare and only really played a role in the impoverished South until the 1930’s.

So, can you get infected?  Yes.  Is it likely? Not really.

Running Barefoot in the Rain June 28, 2010

Posted by Emily in : Running, Thoughts , 1 comment so far

A few days ago, as I was walking out of Walmart (which must be my favorite store since it is the store I shop at the most) it had started to pour rain.  I was wearing some flat sandals (totally barefoot approved) but they had no traction on the bottom of them.  I found myself hydroplaning on the small layer of water that coated the entire distance from me to my car.  Afraid of falling on my butt, (which almost happened several times) I took off my shoes and ran barefoot to my car.  I remembered David telling me how our feet get more grip when they are wet (sweaty or whatever) and our shoes get slippery when they were wet.

WOW.  He wasn’t kidding!

I ran confidently to my car, barefoot, in the pouring rain.  Not only did it remind me of being a kid, but it made me long for warm Texas rain storms.  There’s nothing quite like puddle jumping in warm puddles, with warm rain coating your face.

This barefoot thing really brings out the kid in you.

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part IV June 11, 2010

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

Advantage #4

It’s easy to pack for a trip.

Barefoot shoes (a.k.a. your feet) don’t take up any room in your luggage.

Barefoot Walk June 10, 2010

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

It was about 5:30 pm and the wind was blowing.  We just put our son down for the night.  I asked, “Do you guys want to go for a barefoot walk?”  Surprisingly, Emily (the supposed other contributor to this blog) said, “Yes.”  We all grabbed a jacket to shield us from the whipping winds and set off on our little walk.

It’s good to have everything you need to walk, run, play, whatever your pleasure.  Your feet are an amazing part of your body.  I felt a bit like a kid tonight . . . traipsing down the sidewalk with nothing on my feet but the dust I picked up along the way.

Hannah, one of our barefooters-in-training, insisted she hold the dog’s leash.  She ended up jogging most of the way.  It was interesting to watch her perfect barefoot running form . . . self taught.  Kids are pros at listening to their bodies.  What kid do you know that pushes through the pain?  I guess getting back into the barefoot experience of life helps us learn to be like kids again.

Enjoy the summer barefoot!

My Lungs are Lagging June 8, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , 2comments

I’ve been listening to my body for the past few days and it’s been telling me that I need to rest and recover from running for a time . . . until this morning.  I went out for a little run this morning and ended up going two miles . . . barefoot . . . partly on the road and partly on the sidewalk.  I stepped on a few pebbles that made me take notice, and one wedged itself into the joint under my left big toe and made me feel like I had developed a blister.  So, I stopped and looked . . . brushed it off (happy it wasn’t a blister) and went on my way.  My feet are getting tougher, my muscles are getting stronger, but my lungs are lagging behind.  I was a bit winded at the end of the two miles, but I’m glad I went.  I love the hours after a run or good exercise.  Your body truly rewards you for working it.

Enjoy your health!

Vibram Five Fingers and a Rock Wall June 7, 2010

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

Last Saturday, we went to the carnival at Pony Express Days 2010 in Eagle Mountain, UT.  Of course, I wore my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).  I would have been barefoot, but I just don’t think it would have been the best environment . . . I’m into going barefoot, but not that much.  Plus, I don’t think they would have let me on all the rides without my shoes.

Just before we left, I noticed a rock wall.  After watching a few people attempt the climb with the highest difficulty, I noticed something on top of the cable support.  A $20 bill.  If you climb the route, hit the bell, and reach the $20 . . . it’s yours.

I thought it was worth the $5 for the fun of the climb and two chances to make $15.  I learned a few things.

  1. If you’re going to make it to the $20, be in good climbing shape.
  2. Make sure you get it on the first attempt as you won’t be as fresh on the second attempt.
  3. I’m glad I’ve been working on my foot/toe strength as the VFFs don’t quite offer the same support as climbing shoes.

All in all, they worked well as climbing shoes.  The rubber isn’t quite as sticky as climbing shoes, but they certainly would work in a pinch if you needed to shimmy up the side of a cliff.

. . . oh, and I didn’t quite make it to the cash, but I did ring the bell. :)

Why Your Kids Should Be Barefoot June 4, 2010

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

Personally, I don’t remember going barefoot all that much as a kid.  I know I did my fair share, but I can’t say I ran around barefoot all my childhood.  In fact, I remember one instance as a child where my mom took me with her to my grandmother’s house to pick some apricots.  The lawn in the very back part of this property was pretty much all crabgrass.  It was stiff and I remember being barefoot on that specific occasion.  It hurt!  Obviously my feet were not used to running around barefoot all day.  Had my feet been conditioned by being predominantly barefoot, it wouldn’t have been a problem for me to traipse around sans shoes.

In 1992 in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Rao & Joseph completed a study entitled The Influence of Footwear on the Prevalence of Flat Foot.  It was a survey of 2,300 children between the ages of four and 13.  This was their result:

The incidence among children who used footwear was 8.6% compared with 2.8% in those who did not (p < 0.001). Significant differences between the predominance in shod and unshed children were noted in all age groups, most marked in those with generalised ligament laxity. Flat foot was most common in children who wore closed-toe shoes, less common in those who wore sandals or slippers, and least in the unshod.

Our findings suggest that shoe-wearing in early childhood is detrimental to the development of a normal longitudinal arch.

For me, that pretty much sums it up.  I know there are a lot of hazards out there for barefooted children, but I personally consider it worthwhile to keep a vigilant lookout for hazardous material in order to allow them to develop properly.

Listen to your soles!

Reference:

Rao, Udaya B., and Benjamin Joseph. “THE INFLUENCE OF FOOTWEAR ON THE PREVALENCE OF FLAT FOOT.” The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 74-B.4 (1992): 525-27. Print.

Another Mile Barefoot June 3, 2010

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

Yesterday, I did a lot of sitting as I’m studying quite a bit.  My feet were feeling it.  My body was screaming at me that I needed to get moving.  I felt like I had been on a 15 hour bus ride and hadn’t gotten up to walk around that much . . . yeah, my feet were swollen.  So, this morning after I got up I promised myself that I’d get out for a run today.  I did!  I decided to try the route of the 5K I ran Monday.  I’m still a bit spent from Monday’s race, so I only got in a mile, but I did it with my favorite shoes . . . my feet.

I’m noticing changes in my feet as I continue running without shoes.  My calluses are getting thicker, I can feel the increasing strength in all my foot muscles, and I believe the subcutaneous fat pads are getting thicker as well.  It’s actually very comfortable running without shoes.  The best part about all these changes . . . they didn’t cost me a penny!  (Great for the budget of a recently graduated medical student . . . looking forward to earning an income.)

Have fun with your feet!

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part III June 2, 2010

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

Advantage #3

Your barefoot shoes are very easy to clean . . . it’s as easy as washing your hands.

You’ve had the experience before when you’ve purchased that new pair of shoes.  They look so good and clean . . . for just a little while.  Why can’t they last that way forever . . . or at least longer than a week?  Well, when you have a living shoe, all you have to do is wash it and it’s pretty much clean again.  Sure, it changes over time and starts showing the wear and tear of life as the years go by, but hey that’s better than one week!

Another thing I’ve noticed with the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) is that after a while they develop a stank.  Yes, I said stank . . . it’s like a stink, but more foul.  They are machine washable, but so far with all the washing I’ve done of my VFFs they always retain a hint of that stank.  It’s tolerable, but I don’t think I’d want it sitting under my nose while I was trying to go to bed.  Your barefoot shoes are quite a bit easier to clean . . . in my opinion.

Take care of your soles!

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part II June 1, 2010

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

Advantage #2

Your barefoot shoes are really light.

Consider Nike’s most expensive running shoe, the Nike Air Max+ 2009 iD Running Shoe.  This shoe has a price of $185 at Nike.com.  I pick the most expensive shoe because when something costs this much . . . I expect a lot out of the product.  Nike lists this shoe as weighing 12.8 ounces for a men’s size 9.  I wear an 11 so it’ll probably be a few more ounces . . . a little closer to a pound.  For simplicity, I’ll use the weight they give on their site.

Let’s say I decided to run a 5K . . . just for fun.  Every mile, I can expect to lift my feet a total of 2,000 times between the two of them (that’s the best estimate I could quickly find via google . . . nothing really scientific for that number).  Let’s add that up.  12.8 ounces lifted 2,000 times per mile for 3.1 miles.  That’ll equal 6,200 steps at 12.8 ounces per step for a grand total of 4,960 lbs.  Woah!  You’ll end up lifting more than two tons in shoe weight in a 5K!  What if you run a marathon?  2,000 steps for 26.2 miles equals 52,400 steps.  At 12.8 ounces you’ll end up lifting 41,920 lbs!  I’d have to say running barefoot is a bit more efficient.

Enjoy the efficiency!