Can barefoot running and walking fix flat feet? By Dr. Michael Nirenberg

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by Vickers, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Vickers

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    Can barefoot running and walking fix flat feet?By Dr. Michael NirenbergAmerica's Podiatristwww.americaspodiatrist.com


    Flat feet is a condition where the arch of the feet undergo collapse and flatten: That is why it is often also referred to as fallen arches. Individuals with flat feet can suffer from a variety of foot ailments, pain, and fatigue, which can also extend to the legs and back. This condition is present in up to 30% of all people, and it is unfortunately not reversible by the use of arch-shaping shoe inserts, whether over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.

    StudiesSuggest Shoe Wearing Predisposes To Flat Feet!

    A very interesting Indian study (1) analyzed the footprints of 2,300 children. It is commonplace in India for typical children to be barefoot most of the time, with only the higher classes usually shod in shoes. It found that the incidence of flat feet among children that used footwear was over three times greater than those who commonly played and ran in bare feet. The study unequivocally states that “shoe wearing predisposes to flat foot”. Flat feet can also be due to other factors, such as genetics, injury, etcetera.

    A RemarkableExample ofBarefoot RunningHelping Raise the Foot’sArch!

    There have long been anecdotal reports that barefoot running can actually raise the arch of the foot and reverse flat feet, but now we have available the remarkable case study presented by a 41 year old male who recorded his foot print prior to engaging in a six month campaign of walking and running barefoot.

    This individual has no history of medical problems and after a lifetime of conventional shoe wearing began to average 35 kilometers per week in running barefoot. He also shunned his footwear for most of this time in his everyday activities.

    RemarkableBefore & After Foot Prints!

    The Before & After footprints posted above clearly show how the remarkable transition from a flattened foot (or flat foot) to a healthy and normal arch. The individual also reports that since he has been barefoot, he has been suffering far less knee and ankle pain and swelling through his running.

    Supportive Shoes Limit The Motion Exercise Of Foot Muscles!

    This person’s fascinating experience isan examplethat even the most advanced shoes cannot provide the incalculable benefits of walking and running in bare feet. Indeed, supportive shoes tend to limit the motion exercise of foot muscles which can lead to further flattening of the arch!

    Perhaps, it’s time to shun your shoes and regain flexibility and strength in your feet! Your arches will thank you!

    (BTW, I would love to hear more “foot” reports – good and bad - from other barefoot runners and walking! Please feel free to post comments with any foot-altering changes you have noticed as a result of barefoot activity.)

    http://www.americaspodiatrist.com/2010/11/can-barefoot-running-walking-fix-flat-feet/
     
  2. Barefoot TJ

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    My feet are no longer as flat as they used to be, and I don't pronate as much as I used too. There's something to be said about letting the feet be.

    Good for you, Vickers. There are lots of good baby barefoot-style shoes out there now. Even just a thick pair of socks for the colder months will do. Otherwise, consider some mocassin-type shoes. No need for "baby walking shoes" that "train" a baby to walk. They are too rigid and must be painful. Let their feet do what they were designed to do, right?
     
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  3. smileyfootjamie

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    My dad didn't want me to even try running barefoot because it was "unsafe" because I had slightly fallen arches/a bit of overpronation. I did it anyway though and have been barefoot since last September. My feet were never flat but I do think the arches are SO much stronger now that I go barefoot or VFF almost full time!
     
  4. stjohnthegambler

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    Ditto here. I didn't have fallen or low arches, but when I switched to BF running, my arches got higher, and my foot shape changed. Now I have some examples when someone tells me that can't run BF because they have flat feet. It's just that doctors have told them they can't run, and they believe it.
     

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  5. tdberg

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    I'm not the 41-year-old male mentioned in this post, but I could just as easily be. Flat-footed all my life, I wore hard plastic orthotics in my shoes for 30 years. If, by chance, I didn't have them in or went barefoot too long, my entire skeleton would ache by the end of the day. Now, after 14 months of barefoot running and either going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes when I had to (such as at work), I no longer have flat feet. I wish I had done a formal footprint before and after, but I can tell when I walk through some water and see my footprint and I can tell just by looking at my feet. Also, I no longer get aches from being without my orthotics, which I will never wear again.

    While we're on this topic, I have a question perhaps someone here can answer. My wife is skeptical (to say the least) of my barefoot running. She has very high arches and is convinced that that will be bad without the support of a regular running shoe. Does anyone have experience with this? Any advice is welcome.
     
  6. Barefoot TJ

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    Glad you are out of the orthotics and your feet are getting stronger.

    Low arches or high arches, your body is going to figure out what it needs to do. Your arches will react however they need to given the load you place on them. Show her you are proof of that.
     
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  7. ravyngurl

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    I have been barefoot running and attempting to go barefoot as much as possible for about 6 months now, and I have noticed the same thing. My left foot is arching up faster than my right one, but both feet feel so much healthier! I was always a competitive swimmer from a very young age and up through high school, so I spent quite a bit of time barefoot. Then later when I stopped swimming as much, I started wearing shoes for most of the time I spent on land. I am not sure why I felt it necessary to wear shoes so often! Now, I realize why I felt so much healthier when I wasn't wearing shoes: my feet were much happier, and so was the rest of me. Not wearing shoes again has changed my life for the better. I feel like a smart kid again.
     

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  8. wadilaw

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    Have had flat-feet my whole life. After a few months of running minimalist, I noticed arches. Amazing.
     
  9. Cold Feet

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    My story is a long one, but I'll spare you, and only hit the highlights. For years, running was only effective coping/stress relief mechanism. Don't misunderstand, I love a good beer, or wine, or whiskey, but that has limits. I ran alot for 15-20 years in all kinds of shoes - everyday, several times a day, races and triathalons. My favorite shoe was the "cross-trainer" (I know what you're thinking, but I was young). I started to have problems with my knees and back in my late 20's, and by my early 30's I was done; collapsed right arch, severe ITB syndrome, and severe back spasms. I tried "motion control" shoes with little relief. An orthopaedist - a good one specializing in sports medicine - said I was probably done running, but I should try out arch supports. He specifically said, no fancy orthotics because they are a waste of money. Spenco's were just as effective, and they were cheap. I been happily on a bike ever since, and with arch supports in my shoes to keep my ankle bones from bashing into the cranks. But since I couldn't even stand or walk for extended periods without serious foot, knee and back pain, I used arch supports, and arch supports on top of arch supports, always, in every pair of shoes. For a year, I wore Spenco's inside my Birkenstocks. I kept Birkenstocks by my bed and would not put my feet on the floor without them. And here's the point, my right arch is back. The ankle is not as stable as the left, but I can now stand and move on it without it collapsing.



    Fast forward 15+ years and in the wake of the barefoot revival, and I can run again. Not far because I still have tender feet. But in my Newton Trainer's mimicking my barefoot stride, I have no limits, no knee pain and no back pain. This is a minor miracle that neither I nor the doctors thought possible.



    But when I am at work, standing around, working in the yard, or on a leisurely hike, I wear arch supports to support the foot and ankle and to prevent fatigue and wear from creating conditions where my feet again become the limiting factor. So, even though I am all in on barefoot and minimalist running, I caution against extremes and rejecting any and all supportive shoes as harmful. Certainly not for running, but after a long ride, a not-so-long run, walking 18 or 36 holes, or just a long day on my feet, nothing feels better than slipping into Birkenstocks. Just like any physical activity, rest and recovery are an important part of the training and strengthing routine. My personal experience is that arch supports and supportive footware fullfil that role.



    Now, I'll wait for the flaming to begin.
     
  10. Barefoot TJ

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    Just if you would recognize that if we would stop babying our feet everytime they got an owie and allow them to function the way they were intended, we wouldn't need all the external supports to do the work for us. You have become reliant on supports instead of relying on what God gave you.

    If you sprained your neck, would you keep wearing a neck brace for the rest of your life? Or would you rather wear it until you could get to a point that you no longer needed it and then allowed your neck muscles to strengthen and carry on once again as they were designed to?

    We all know that if you keep any part of your body confined in casts for too long, that part of your body atrophies, the muscles deteriorate, and the body becomes weak and dependent.

    Science also states that if you support an arch underneath, you weaken the arch. You don't see arched bridges with support under them for a reason.

    I'm not saying go cold turkey. I'm saying break away slowly from the prison your feet are in. For all of those who have found themselves dependent on supports, confining shoes, orthotics, etc.,try incorporating somebarefoot activity each day until you can break free from the prison you are in. Sure. It's not a free ride, and it's going to take some work and sacrifice on your part, maybe even some pain, but you can do it. If you don't, as you age, you are going to be in a world of hurt. One study I read recently suggested that people who have relied on supports instead of their own foot muscles tend to fall more often then those who live/walk barefoot. Proprioception is lost when our naked feet aren't able to support us. We lose our ability to tell where we are placing our feet or should be placing our feet. Artificial support does not give us this proprioception back either.Also, the science shows that those who wear supportive shoes and orthotics have less blood flow to their feet,therefore, less oxygen and nutrients making the feet unhealthy.

    I can go on, but I think I've made my point.
     
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