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Pain free, plus barefoot running

Posted by KellyC on 7/15/05 at 11:54 (178462)

I'm another oldtimer who decided to stop back by for a visit. I've been free of PF for nearly 3 years now. To recap what I had said after I got over my last bout of PF (which was my 4th case), the night splint was probably the biggest factor in helping me. I use a big plastic night splint, the kind that goes nearly up to my knee. I got it from my podiatrist, and that's about the only good thing she did for me. The next best help was probably the neuromuscular massage therapy. Icing was also a big help. Oh, and Alzner orthotics, the Goodfeet thing, although I got my second pair from phase4orthotics.com

Now for the interesting bit--for the last month or so, I've been trying barefoot running. DON'T consider even trying this when you have PF! But once your PF is healed, it's worth a try. I've realized that I let the muscles, connective tissues, and even the bones in my feet atrophy over years of coddling them in padded running shoes.

There seems to be a lot of evidence that barefoot running leads to fewer running injuries than running in high-tech running shoes. The reason seems to be that when you run barefoot, you strengthen the muscles in the foot and lower leg, and can even toughen the bones. When people run in running shoes, they often end up heel-striking, which is a very bad running stride.

I did 4 miles barefoot last night in a local park, and my feet feel fine. I've done up to 3 miles on asphalt, with no ill effects. I think I'll eventually switch to a lightweight shoe, maybe even a flat shoe like Converse All-Stars.

Good luck to all of you on dealing with PF--you *can* get better!

Re: Pain free, plus barefoot running

Ralph on 7/15/05 at 12:59 (178464)

Barefoot running sounds contrary to everything that is posted here, but it seems to work for you and that's good.

After using orthotics for so long how did you make the switch or do you still use them when wearing shoes?

Re: Pain free, plus barefoot running

KellyC on 7/15/05 at 13:47 (178468)

Ralph,

Humans evolved to run barefoot, that is quite clear. And running, along with intelligence, is one of our evolutionary advantages. There are lots of well-documented cases of indigenous peoples, both in Africa and South America, that run down deer by simply outlasting them over long distances.

To be clear, I would NEVER recommend that anyone go barefoot until the PF is healed, and healed for many months.

It actually has taken me just a month to mostly wean myself off of orthotics. I sometimes use them when wearing shoes still, but mostly I wear Tevas, which don't have anywhere near the arch support that my shoes had.

My feet definitely ached for a few weeks, and I was very careful about not tiring my feet out too much. I bought some light moccasins that don't even have an insole, and I wore those at work. When my feet got tired, I would switch over to my running shoes and orthotics to give my feet a rest.

But a key part of that regimen was barefoot walking. Just walking around at work, and standing, doesn't give your feet much exercise. Actually going for a walk, even on asphalt, felt much better.

Google around for barefoot running if you're at all curious, there are lots of websites. I'm on the Yahoo group for barefoot running, but the messages drift off topic a lot, and I'm not really happy with the signal/noise ratio there.