jump to navigation

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!

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!


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!

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.

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!

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!

What to Eat May 17, 2010

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

When I stop to think about it, I find it amazing how much money people spend on this diet or that trying to trim off a few pounds here or there.  I do understand wanting to make eating, or rather figuring out what to eat, a little easier.  I don’t know the most recent numbers, but I’m pretty sure the money spent on “diets” is in the billions annually.  Here’s the problem I see.  If you’re not changing your lifestyle, it’s not going to last.  Think of this like exercise . . . if you don’t like it, you’re not going to do it.  What you need to do is develop a lifestyle you’re willing to live.  Eat certain foods and exercise a certain amount . . . then stick to it.

I had a conversation with my father-in-law over the holidays.  I explained to him that our bodies burn a certain amount of calories per day.  This number, often referred to as our basal metabolic rate (BMR) or basal metabolic expenditure (BME), is a function of our age, height, weight, and daily activity.  If you want to know your true BMR, you need to get hooked up to a machine that measures how much oxygen you burn.  Another way is to visit a website that has a BMR calculator and enter your information.  This will give you a good guide as to how many calories you burn in a day.  If you eat less calories than you burn, your body uses energy it has stored to make up the difference.  If you eat more calories than you burn, your body will store the excess energy.  Our bodies have an incredibly efficient way of storing energy . . . it’s called fat.

Now, what should you eat?  My recommendation comes from multiple articles I’ve read recently that talk about the benefits of a certain type of diet.  The Mediterranean diet.  It’s not a diet that has been put together by any company to make money from you, but rather a style of eating that has been shown to be very beneficial for your health.  Check out this site.  It’s a guide of how to adopt the Mediterranean diet and is from the Mayo Clinic.  So, there you have it.  Eat less calories than you burn and use the Mediterranean diet to make sure you are eating food that’s healthy for you.

By the way, since my conversation with my father-in-law, he’s lost 25 lbs.  It’s totally inspiring!