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Barefoot Training: What’s The Deal?

people running on the road

Barefoot training and minimalist footwear has become quite a hot topic in recent years. This can be traced to a variety of different reasons. One is the manufacturing of minimalist footwear such as the Nike Free or Vibrams Five Fingers. Another is a book that has gained a great deal of notoriety called Born To Run, which is based on an indigenous tribe of Mexico and what allows them to run barefoot for hundreds of miles.

The rationale makes sense. There are people in the world that can run hundreds of miles barefoot and are incredibly healthy. So why shouldn’t we exercise barefoot or in footwear that mimics this?

Some people can exercise barefoot or in minimalist footwear and succeed. For these people, barefoot training or minimalist footwear works. However, it does not work for many others.

The reason for this is simple. Tribes that run barefoot for many miles do so on dirt, grass and other forgiving surfaces. Unfortunately, our surroundings do not allow for this, as concrete is not so forgiving. On concrete, we are unable to manipulate the ground and we experience increased ground reaction forces onto our body from minimal shock absorption.

For these reasons, among many others, more supportive footwear is needed for much of the population. An appropriate shoe allows for the foot to find the ground optimally and properly transition through the different phases of the gait. This allows the body to properly alternate from one leg to the other.

A proper shoe must provide optimal heel control, allow for the arch of the foot to contact the shoe properly and bend only where the toes bend.

The correct shoe can have an incredibly powerful effect on a variety of different ailments and can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of someone’s rehabilitation program.

For more information regarding proper shoes contact Dr. Zachary Cohen at zacharyc@cohenhealth.com

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