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I'm sure someone has done some serious research on this subject at some time but let's have your views on the matter.
Rolling rock (The Imelda Marcos of the running shoe world) always posts great advice on the many shoe questions we get here and I would be the first to agree with her 99% of the time.
It's that troubling 1% that's got me thinking

Running shoe technology, motion control, cushioning and protection have come ahead in leaps and bounds in the past 30 years and yet with all these advancements why haven't injuries among runners decreased?

Years ago we were encouraged to do a certain amount of training in bare feet, mainly on sand but quite often on grass. We started of at distances off about 400m. and over time building up about a mile.

I'm totally convinced that in moderation, this type of exercise helps with stretching and strengthen your feet. To this day and twice a week I always manage to run 500m. ( no more, and that's 2 by 250m with a 70s. rep/recovery ) with my junior runners half way through our golf course repetitions then it's shoes back on. I should add, I can't keep up with any of them. From a coaching point of view I find it invaluable in helping runners aware of their technique and in all the time I have included this drill I have never had a runner with any long term foot injury.

Once again I'm not advocating that you should all start running barefoot, that's a sure way to run into injury but have a think about it, try walking barefoot in small increments and then SLOWLY and GRADUALLY try some 30/50m runs.
The first thing you will notice is that your foot fall is noticeably different and you will feel your toes spread out on the push off. Any of you here who are heel strikers will immediately notice you now automatically land on your forefoot.

So, and excuse me for being long winded in getting around to the question

Could protective shoes be contributing to the problems they're meant to prevent?
Have today's technological advanced shoes allowed us to develop lazy feet?

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Very interesting Par. You may be on to something.
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a resounding absolutely to both of these quite timely (to me personally) questions!!! it's taken me 5 years of running to discover just this phar. in fact, the problems i have had lately, outside tension and tightness in IT, hip flexor tightness, piriformis....blah blah blah....i feel are all due to the outward rolling of my strike being made WORSE by some assenine inserts PRESCRIBED to me by a medical doctor. they only exagerated the roll out and threw everything in my lower body OFF -- from the ankle up to the hip flexors.... :x
so, recently, yours truly has been running what i call "barefoot" and i have, for the first time in 5 years, felt the ball of my foot make complete contact with the surface --complete contact and complete push off; it's a new phenom for me
shoes and their endless gimmicks can ruin an novice like me who listens to any and all misgiven adivce i had gotten over the past 5 years...two surgeons who gave me thick, rigid inserts for my "hamstrings" :? :? two chiros who told me my legs were so different in length it would be impossible to run....on and on and on....
so, in my last ditch effort, i remove the insert in my neutral shoes and feel a new and different footfall. it's amazing. i hope that the new foot experience, along with added pilates, will balance and release my lower body to the point where i can run in a more natural way.
the shoe companies are just giving the people what they want -- gimmicks. i do believe motion control shoes can be helpful for the true overpronator but i am all for the barefoot running experience now.
i would never ever put another insert, prescribed or store bought, into my neutral shoe. i'll go with the factory provided ones or the no-arched dr. scholl's -- basically a flat foam pad. in fact, imelda is looking at that flat-footed nike free and thinking it might not be such a bad idea after all ---
thanks for this post phar, it's like you were :stalker: me!
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I agree as well, I've had the first based on being told to wear certain shoes for my gait for so long that through me into what you are describing plus blisters for oh....5 years? (I'm a slow learner) I'm starting to believe that the majority of the population does not in fact pronate or supinate or "require stability" from a shoe (stability from our own muscles is what we require!) or what not and that if you did, asics latest creation may not be able to correct the situation and any alterations may only worsen your strength imbalances by compensating for losses, rather than allowing you to strengthen them. Great thoughts Phar. In your opinion, do you think spending the majority of my day walking around barefoot helps? Running barefoot scares me...
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I have been doing some reading on this and I would have to agree. I notice a big difference when I walk around the house barefoot from the way I would normally walk. I can only imagine what the difference would be running. My PT a while back had me do all my dynamic functional strengthening exercises without shoes so that my feet would gain strength and balance. I hadn t thought of running barefoot, I will have to give this a try once it warms up around here.

Team Oregon actually has a description of similar exercises if you interested
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Yes..my friend who was a former competitive runner/ironman triathlete reminisced the days when he used to do alot of bare-foot running in his training (he also told me about the time when his coach made him run 8-10k barefooted on tip-toe- that was painful!)....that was back in the 80s and early 90s. He says it helped his running technique and stride and it also strengthened the feet.
I've done one run so far (a set of 200s for pure speed & leg turnover) in my new racing flats and that was the closest I could get to running barefoot so far, since flats do not offer the support that most trainers do. It's a totally different feel and my legs were sore for the next couple of days.
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I'll chime in with agreement over the occasional barefoot striders and such. I also think shoes aren't the be all and end all of the equation. A big, and I think it's probably the biggest piece is the surfaces you run on. Regardless of your shoe's stability, if you're out there on pavement or worse, cement, it's killer. I have yet to read about elite training that doesn't include huge doses of off-road running..pine needle littered trails, woodchip loops or mountainside gravel. Even treadmills provide some softer surfaces which elites have in their regimes. But Joe-runner is more apt than anybody to sidewalk run around downtown and wonder what's up with the sudden tendinitis. And when you add to the equation that the 'average' runner in the US, is getting bigger, just like the rest of the US, those extra pounds are another variable that no shoe is going to soften the blow of.
So Phar, all in all, I'm with ya on the barefoot strategies, but I think for injury prevention, before barefoot workouts or shoe analysis, step one is getting those tootsies on some trails/dirt for minimally, half the time and step two is getting the scale to an ideal place. I know they're both tall orders, but just as important as the shoes, imho.
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Thanks everyone for your input.

Rocky, please be careful, I know from your posts that you are in the Masters/Veterans class so we have to take any new types of training GRADUALLY. I like Cheryl's idea of walking around the house and then progressing on to some barefoot walking/light running outside. Remember moderation is the key.
jrjo, agree with what you say, bare feet are not made to run on concrete, there's no way I'm throwing away my super comfortable, technological advanced shoes (nice colours too) but for me and at least once a week, 2 by 250m. barefoot on natural ground then back into shoes.


OTHER THOUGHTS

Other things you could try is standing on one foot 30sec building up to 1 min. Change feet (Change foot? )
Progressing on try standing on one foot with your eyes closed.
Progressing on again try doing some bicep curls while standing on one foot etc.etc.

What I have extremely helpful for feet and ankles, helping with strengthening and proprioception is to make yourself up a board measuring about 18 inches square and attach a piece of 1/2" dowel through the centre.
Now try balancing barefoot both long ways and across the dowel with the intent of keeping the edges of the ground. I find it near impossible but the constant flexing gives your feet a great workout.
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I am a bit confused as to what you are describing here. should the dowel be laid flat so it acts more like a balance board? LIke this?
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The problem with most shoe designs is that they approach the need by masking the problem. Drug manufacturers also address the symptoms rather than the root issue.

We have trained with excessive plastic and weight on our shoes when we grew up running in next to nothing for shoes. The barefoot running athletes have a better answer than shoe experts.

People are injuring themselves because of the high heel (stilts) shoes. Rather than strengthening the lower leg components the shoe experts told us to add inches to ur height and have pillars and posts underneath our feet.
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