Is BFR just trading one set of problems for another?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Joseph, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. Joseph

    Joseph Barefooters
    1. New Mexico

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    So I am new to BFR, new to the site, and really just getting back into running after many, many years. What led me to this point is that I started running about six months ago and fell in love with it - it has literally changed my life (I know, I sound like that guy on the video...) - I have lost tons of weight, I have more energy, I am a happier person, all that stuff that we all love about it. But I developed shin-splints and my knees started to hurt, so I started researching... That led me to VFFs and a lot of form stuff, and all that has helped - tremendously. Continuing my research, I found BFR and a couple of websites like this one. Now, I completely buy into the rationale behind BFR and it all makes a lot of sense to me, so I am not a cynic - I am a believer - and I just started BFR this week. I actually just finished my third BF run a couple hours ago.

    My question has to do with all the stuff I have been reading on here. TMTS, TOFP, blisters, stress fractures, etc... And then I have read stuff about compression socks, toe splints, and other implements to help with BFR. This kind of confuses me. I am new, so I know I have a lot to learn, or maybe re-learn is more accurate, but isn't the point to get away from injury and our reliance on other aides? Aren't we trying to recapture our natural selves? It seems like there are just as many downfalls with BFR as running in shoes, and I desperately want to avoid any more injuries that would cause me to have to stop for any amount of time.

    Any thoughts? I truly appreciate it.
     
  2. kentox

    kentox Barefooters
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     You raise some very valid

    You raise some very valid points. Most of the issues like TMTS, Blisters,TOFP etc are from over doing it once you begin and can be generally avoided if you take it slowly. It's a paitence game especially if you are a runner with a good base and don't want to loose that and think you are going to run the same amount of miles barefoot. That is a injury waiting to happen hence why there are a lot of posts surrounding these issues.

    I have had all of these issues but now I can run 15km barefoot and have no issues at all. Working towards a half marathon in May 2011 :)
     

  3. Barefoot Mary

    Barefoot Mary Barefooters
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    I occassionally wonder myself

    I occassionally wonder myself about running on pavement regularly, but then I remember that since I started (8 months ago) I haven't had any problems with the bottoms of my feet, haven't required any extra equipment except a pair of water shoes when it gets cold, and enjoy a much fuller wallet. I've experienced TOFP, but that's only because my feet are weak from being stuffed into shoes for years. Also, it's amazing what padding along softly does to your body positively instead of slamming your feet into the pavement like you have something against it.

    Just remember Ken Bob has been running barefoot essentially his whole 50+ year life, on pavement, and he's happy and healthy without anything but the soles of his feet. Nothing but a tie-die shirt. I'm really most inspired by him and the other hippies out there:

    http://barefootkenbob.com/?page_id=11



    I figure if he can do it, I can do it.

    Cheers and welcome!
     
  4. ajb422

    ajb422 Barefooters
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     I've been thinking about

    I've been thinking about this as well. In my case I really didn't have any problems I was trying to get away from. Some minor shin splints but nothing bad. Now that I run bf I have some mildly annoying chronic PTT (or something like it). Some weird stress reaction thing that has kept me from running for a couple weeks and I get so f*ing cold without shoes on. So its easy to see why I'd have my doubts at times.

    The thing that keeps me doing it and not doubting it to much is for one its alot of fun. But also I can't believe how much my feet and ankles have changed in the few months I've been doing it. Its no wonder I'm hurting my entire mid calf and below are being completely remodeled. If only I'd been doing this since I was first walking I bet I wouldn't have any of these problems. I also am very much starting to believe that some of these TMTS injuries are really more like growing injuries. You look at everyone who is getting them and there really is no pattern in mileage. Also I'll get an issue on one side and go easy for a few weeks to give it time to heal and then I'll end up with it on the other side. If it wasn't inevitable wouldn't the going easy for the issue on the one side prevent the issue on the other side from ever occurring?

    I'm still holding on to the idea that this is all the fault of being in shoes for so long. If I had been kept in whole leg casts my whole life would I never try walking just because the first year of it caused me alot of pain? Of course not. I'd blame it on the casts, fight through any pain and learn to walk. Same idea with learning to run without supportive shoes.
     
  5. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Just because we run barefoot

    Just because we run barefoot doesn't mean that we are immune to injury. I say this time and time again. In order to avoid injuries, barefoot or shod, we have to run smart. Running smart means listening to the signals your body and feet are sending, which when barefoot is much easier to hear (since as Ken Bob says, we have removed the ear plugs from our feet). When we are able to receive feedback, we are less likely to become injured. When we do become injured, it comes from a "natural" injury, not an artificial one from shoes.

    Since you brought up some items, I think it's important we cover them one by one in detail.

    TMTS: Comes from those who do not run smart, do not listen to their bodies, and do not rest when their bodies tell them to. This is not inherent to barefoot running alone, since shod runners also experience this as well.

    TOFP: Also is experienced by shod runners, and is not inherent to just barefoot runners. With barefoot running, the TOFP people experience is believed to be due to the foot's settling and restructuring, which is very understandable, since this is what happens when we go from wearing shoes for years and years that atrophy our feet. The TOFP I experienced came from running in shoes, not barefoot. Visit RW's Injury forum, and you will find lots of discussions about how to avoid TOFP--get shoes with loose toeboxes, loosen your shoe laces, etc.

    Stress fractures: Again visit RW's Injury forum, and you will find plenty of shod runners talking about their stress fractures, so stress fractures are not a barefoot running only issue. It's important to take care of our bones and make sure that we are taking plenty of vitamin D and calcium.

    Blisters: Most people I know who run shod have experienced more blisters than most people running barefoot. With barefoot running, blisters are little aids that teach us proper form; once that form has been learned, they typically do not reoccur. Whereas they repeat in those who run in shoes.

    Compression socks: These, again, are used by runners, not necessarily only barefoot runners. They are believed to aid in recovery after long runs. They have nothing to do with barefoot or shod running specifically, just running in general.

    Toe splints: Many people have what's called Morton's Toe (MT). That's where the second metatarsal bone is longer than the first metatarsal bone. This too in not a barefoot runner only problem; this is a "human" problem. Many people with MT have found that they can run much more comfortably without shoes; others find that they need a device such as a toe splint to help them with their condition. Again, this isn't developed from running shod or barefoot, but rather from being born human.

    Good topic. From a newcomer's perspective, I can see how you would come to ask these questions. I hope my comments have helped to clear the air some. Again, just because we run barefoot doesn't mean we are immune to injury; it just means we're able to run without injuries unnecessarily caused by shoes.
     
  6. Danjo

    Danjo Barefooters
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    NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Okay,

    NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Okay, over-dramatic answer, but seriously, don't be a doubter. Yes, there are a lot of injuries and stuff going around the site, but thats almost all from new barefoot runners. (You are new for several months, not just the first time you go out. Everyone stops being new in thier own period of time, and of course you never stop learning, but the benefits really start to kick in after you figure out what you're doing.) There are some more experienced people being injured but those are usually more isolated incedents (TJ's Neruoma's from shoes, Lava Runner slipping on a cup, etc...).

    I definitely had the same thoughts when I was new (well I've only been bare for 5 months, but I've gotten to the point where I know what I'm doing enough to just go out and do it.) I wasn't really running from an injury when I switched, so it really bugged me how I'd have to wait in between runs, and how I'd have so many bad runs, when I could have been having normal runs in shoes every time. Its going to take a couple of months to get past these worries no matter how you go about it, but I think there are two things that really helped me move forward. 1: I stopped trying to go running in normal shoes. The two actions are just too different to try and think of them both as the same activity. 2: I started wearing my huaraches as my walking shoes, so that I could use the proper form ALL the time. The more time you spend doing the right movements the better you will get at them.

    Everyone has thier own way of going about things, and its important that you find your way yourself, Barefoot running is definitely learned by experience, not just from someone telling you how to do it. However, these are the things that seemed to really help me.
     
  7. zapmamak

    zapmamak Barefooters
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    Joseph - I totally relate to

    Joseph - I totally relate to your post. I am currently a transitioning barefoot runner (3 months in now) and have experienced some issues beginning to run barefoot. Before running barefoot I had numerous and consistent pains from morton's neuroma to chondromalatia patella and plantar facsitis. What I have found is that those major issues that have been existent for years with my running shod (for a while running more than 2 miles was very uncomfortable because of knee pain) have almost but gone away while I run barefoot. The only time I experience those deeper issues is when I try to run in my minimal shoes. The pains I have while barefooting are pretty much superficial and starting to lessen now that I've gotten up to about 5.5 miles barefoot. Right now its just the occasional blister, raw spots and jabby spots. I'm withholding judgement until I'm about 6 to 8 months in, however. I think I will have better perspective by then. So far so good though. No aides needed, but bare feet. That seems to work for me.
     

  8. jschwab

    jschwab Barefooters
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    In a word, yes. I compare it

    In a word, yes. I compare it to natural childbirth. You can hurt today, or you can hurt tomorrow and then for a month after that. I'd rather just hurt today. Abrasions, bruises are far preferable to me than tendonitis or a fracture for me.
     

  9. Barefoot Mary

    Barefoot Mary Barefooters
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    +1 on TJ! Great post! I

    +1 on TJ! Great post!



    I first got TOFP (stress fractures, really) from wearing old shoes. Mizunos. I was told to buy new shoes more often & tie my laces so there would be a gap at the top of my foot to prevent futher sprains. Now my feet are strong enough to not rely on shoes anymore.
     
  10. Matt

    Matt Barefooters
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    The one thing that taking off

    The one thing that taking off your shoes doesn't do is give you patience. Without that, you are going to run into problems.

    The ironic thing is that with enough patience, running can be a lifelong pursuit. If you want to run an ultramarathon, there is no need to do it 6 months after starting out. How about waiting 6 years?

    Feet can help with feedback, but without patience, it's very easy to ignore what our feet are telling us.
     
  11. Abide

    Abide Barefooters
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    Matt wrote:The ironic thing



    +1, so true.
     
  12. twinkletoes

    twinkletoes Barefooters
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    I have scars on the top of

    I have scars on the top of both feet from nasty blisters caused by running shoes just this past summer, and it's fun to point them out to the doubters- as the soles are pretty darn smooth these days.

    The pain of adjustment in my lower legs after all the years in shoes and multiple sprained ankle injuries was worth it to have such stronger feet. I don't get shin splints or have knee or hip pain any more and I know I'm a stronger runner than I was before the transition.

    Ultimately for me, the soul component gained by barefooting outweighs all the pains of transition.
     
  13. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    going bf has freed me from

    going bf has freed me from all things you said one "needs" to run. i just need shorts and time.



    mike
     

  14. Joseph

    Joseph Barefooters
    1. New Mexico

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     Wow! Thanks for all the

    Wow! Thanks for all the great responses... My big thing is definitely PATIENCE! (As in, I don't have much!) And now that I have decided to switch to BF, well, it's like starting all over! I do really think it will be worth it in the long run, once I can start running long again, but for now, I guess I just wanted reassurance that I am not going to invest a bunch of time just to have a whole new slew of problems.

    I do not want to rely on anything other than my body for running, or exercise in general, and that is one of the aspects of BFR that greatly appeals to me. I am definitely a nature lover and the thought of getting out there BF puts a big smile on my face. Plus, I really think it will become the most efficient and fun way to run, once I get it figured out and my feet strong.

    I really appreciate all the comments and responses and look forward to the transition. So far, I have gone on three BF runs in the past 7 days. All three have been around 2 miles, and that's when my feet are starting to feel tender. One small blister, but nothing to write home about or post for viewing pleasure... I have been very tempted to put on the shoes and go for a long run, but have resisted. It's reassuring to hear others that have recently gone BF are now putting in good mileage.



    Thanks again everyone!
     
  15. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Well pooh to not being able

    Well pooh to not being able to see the blister pictures, my favorites. :)

    This is a very good thread. We should add it to the Library, since I am sure others will have the same questions, and our responses are right on. Stomper?
     
  16. dunetraveller

    dunetraveller Barefooters
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    I posted this elsewhere, but

    I posted this elsewhere, but while it is true there are injuries on this side of the dividing line, there are a lot of differences. Rather than major joint problems like ankles, knees (especially), and hips which can sideline you for a long time, multiple times, and may eventually require surgeries; the stress fractures, tendon and ligament issues, and nerve type complaints of BF runners are mostly one timers, and normally not debillitating enough to sideline you the rest of your life the way running heel to toe can. I think the quality of the injuries that MAY happen while running barefoot have a better prognosis IMO.
     

  17. stomper

    stomper Guest

    Barefoot TJ wrote:This is a

    holidays & work are knocking me out. but yes I can work in a link somewhere, eventually.

    But to respond to the OP, my answer is NO!

    As usual, Matt came in with the wise, transcendent answer I would have liked to give, #$8! him :) , so I'll stick to the argumentative.

    In my individual experience, there is NO comparison between the issues and problems of the shod runner and those of the barefoot runner. I have not had a single significant injury or even any discomfort lasting >1 day since I switched to barefoot, and now I go longer and faster than I did with shoes. The practice of BFR has given me a lot of experience listening to my body and that's kept me from punishing my body. And because I haven't punished my body, I've really come to love running. It's a totally different mode than "just do it" or "no pain no gain."

    The other day someone I know was trying out the barefoot style and she said, "I don't feel like I'm getting a workout" and I said, "then you're probably doing it right." She didn't know it, but she was going just as fast as she does in thick shoes.

    Of course I'm a sample size of 1. But from reading this forum and comparing it to other info about runners, I'm going to go out a limb and predict that eventually someone will find that BF runners get injured less seriously, and probably less often, than shod ones. I am not sure about minimalist runners, because I think they are at the most danger for doing TMTS. But true BF feels like the safest, gentlest way to go. IMHO.

    Good luck!
     
  18. JosephTree

    JosephTree Barefooters
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    +2 on Matt (does it work like

    +2 on Matt (does it work like that?)

    In my 8 months of BF running (coming from zero) all my aches have been minor, needing only a day or 3 of rest before I could go out and run some more. They've also been mostly a result of patience failure. It's so easy to forget! I can easily envision myself running for years and years now, at roughly the level I run at now. That would not be a bad thing at all. In reality, I think it will just get better, as in smoother, easier, faster and more fun. However, I don't think I'll be straining for faster any more than I'd struggle for more fun.
     
  19. Matt

    Matt Barefooters
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    stomper wrote:...In my

    Stomper, I have actually had a couple injuries as a barefoot runner (if you can even call them that). I think there were two times when I took about 2 weeks off from running, and then I came back slowly, which generally went pretty well. But if I look back 4 years ago when I was a shod runner, it was a totally different picture. My knees hurt on and off quite a bit. I would run for a few weeks, then have to take 2 or 3 weeks off. It seemed like no matter what I did, my body would have some kind of pain related to running. I just assumed that I was one of those people that wasn't meant to run.

    I still don't run big mileage, but the miles I do run are good miles. Running is fun, and what more could I ask for when I run?
     
  20. rpierce

    rpierce Barefooters
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    I've been reading this thread

    I've been reading this thread and find myself saying me too! I'm somewhat new to BF / minimalist running and have only been doing it for about 3 months, starting slowly with swim shoes and as weather permits, I go bare. I am now up to running on average 15 - 17 miles a week and I have been battling an on again off again similar pain mostly in my left ankle. The location of my pain is more on the outside of the left ankle and it's in an area where there's more tissue. This soft tissue area swells a little, but it doesn't hurt to touch it, it only aches when I walk/run. Most of the pain to the touch is on the inside of the ankle under the bone, back toward the heal. It's sore like a bruise, but there's no swelling.

    I too have a difficult time with regular shoes now (even my running shoes), and when I walk in them, it feels awkward and I want to kick them off as soon as I can. Honestly these issues are making me feel a bit freakish because I started down this path to help with pain in my knees and while I no longer have knee pains or shin splints, I'm constantly whining about my ankles and my regular shoes feeling so wrong (they now feel too small). I'm like goldilocks searching for the perfect bed.

    You questioned if these might just be growing pains and I too have pondered that… It’s been several months since your last post – can you give an update?
     

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