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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!

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 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!

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.

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!

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.

Winded After Five Measly Minutes May 13, 2010

Posted by Emily in : Health, Photo Shoots, Running, Shoes , add a comment

Hi!  It’s me!  Emily!  You know, the one who is “too busy and important” to write a little bio?


I thought I would take a minute to share my experience with Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).

Here’s the thing, I don’t like textures on my feet, so I’m not sure I will ever go completely barefoot (plus, I love well manicured feet too much to scruff them up running).  I’m the kind of girl that has to take deep breaths before walking onto the sandy beach.  I think to myself over and over, “The sand will rinse off, the sand will rinse off, the sand will rinse off . . .”  I’m not exactly the kind of girl that likes to get my feet dirty on a daily basis either, so I hope you understand.  I am happy to be a “minimalist” and maybe over time my husband will convince me to throw all caution to the wind and I’ll let my bare feet hang out (literally).  We’ll see.

I started running in my VFF’s a few weeks ago.  Sadly,  sitting in front of my computer for hours on end, editing photos, writing, and studying, has done nothing to increase my lung capacity.


I’m suffering from lateral spread at the moment, and I know all you women out there know exactly what I’m talking about!

When I first got on the treadmill, I thought, “Great!  I’m ONLY allowed to run five minutes a day for the first week!”

Hallalujah.  This is my kind of work out!

Sadly, my lungs were ready to give up before my feet were, and that is just pathetic all around.  I mean, who gets winded after FIVE MEASLY MINUTES!?

OK, so it happened to me.

I’ve been running here and there, but really, consistency in exercise is not my strong suit, (What gave it away?  The 20 pounds of baby weight I’ve been carrying around the last two years?) so VFF’s are worn on a casual everyday basis.

Mostly, I wear them on walks with the kids, to photo shoots,  out shopping, and to family gatherings.

I love them.  They are really comfy.

They are also a great conversation starter, and without a doubt, I end up talking about barefoot running with my clients at every shoot.

Take this for example: (her foot wear is about as opposite from barefoot as you can get)

I got into this box and demonstrated this pose for her (so she could clearly see my vision for the image) in my VFF’s.

Then, she pointed out the obvious and asked me about my “crazy socks.”  What you don’t see in this picture are four more ballerina’s and their mothers who were at the shoot,  all actively listening in.

You KNOW their feet are just CRYING for a pair!