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fitbody Barefootin’ Let Feet Go Naked and Natural by Jason Robillard M


any folks, like me, started barefoot running on a whim. In 2005, I was just an aspiring runner search- ing for some method to escape chronic injuries involving plantar fasciitis, shin splints and back pain. I never expected to fall in love with this revolutionary approach to recreational running.


Today, according to the AdWords keyword tool, the term “barefoot running” is searched on Google some 90,000 times a month by those seeking more information, includ- ing from websites like guru Ken Bob Saxton’s TheRunning- Barefoot.com and my own BarefootRunningUniversity.com. Even the sports footwear industry has taken notice, with most manufacturers adding “minimalist shoes” to their lines that allow individuals to run in a more natural manner.


Fresh Approach


This paradigm shift in the running world has created a new wave of research, focused on the principles of barefoot run- ning. Dr. Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, has published one of the most influential studies on the topic. In 2010, he and his colleagues discovered that there is no need for the overly cushioned running shoes that have dominated the market for a quarter century. Rather, he concluded, the naked human foot is more than capable of dissipating the forces generated by running. A study published last year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by researchers at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre, at The University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, questioned the entire shoe-fitting process. While monitoring women that were training for a half marathon, the authors found that common motion-control shoes caused more pain than neutral shoes that do not control natural foot movement. They concluded that, “Our current approach of prescribing in-shoe pronation [the inward rolling of the foot] control systems on the basis of foot type is overly simplistic and potentially injurious.”


Thus, the latest thinking is that wearing a modern, cush- ioned, motion-control running shoe is not necessarily the best solution for everyone. Trusting our own body may be a better answer. That’s the mantra of the grandfather of the movement, Ken Bob Saxton, a veteran of 77 barefoot marathons. His stance is clear: “Our own feet are our best running coaches.”


20 Rockland & Orange Counties naturalawakeningsro.com Ted MacDonald, another mentor to many advocates via


BarefootTed.com, agrees, saying, “Barefoot running is about tuning in to your own body’s highly sophisticated set of inte- grated awareness systems, which communicate through feelings and senses that are being collected in real-time as you move.” Critics of barefoot running point out that no conclusive clinical study has yet been done that contrasts injury rates between barefoot and shod runners. While researchers inves- tigate this dynamic, anecdotal evidence from barefoot runners continues to support the beneficial nature of the practice. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph Froncioni offers a helpful


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