September 2010 – Patient Sympathy

August 2010 – Back to School Shoewear

July 2010 – Womens Shoewear

June 2010 – Summer Foot Care

May 2010 – Skin

April 2010 – Ingrown Toenails

March 2010 – Barefoot Running

February 2010 – Pediatric Flatfoot

January 2010 – Being a Compliant Patient

December 2009 – Raynaud’s Disease

November 2009 – NA

October 2009 – Shin Splints

September 2009 – Dealing with Corns and Callouses

August 2009 – Relieving Painful Gout

July 2009 – Caring for Plantar Warts

June 2009 – Bunions

May 2009 – Children's Heel Pain

March/April 2009 – Heel Pain

February 2009 – Shoe Fitting

January 2009 – Nail Fungus

December 2008 – Neuroma

November 2008 – Diabetic Foot Care


March 2010 - Foot Issues by James J. DeLorenzo, DPM

Published in - Healthy Lifestyles

Since the age of 14 I’ve considered myself a runner and have run competitively for most of those years. I have incorporated cycling into my regimen to break up the pounding that my body and knees have been forced to deal with.

Lately, I have come across numerous articles about running and training barefoot. My first impression, as yours would be I’m guessing, is why? Secondly it would be to ask, “Are you out of your mind?” Okay, so why does it seem to be more in the news in the past few months? Even a medical journal of mine had a piece on it not long ago. Their position was…they didn’t have a position on it either way. Not enough studies. Hmm, wonder why?

Runner’s World had an article on an 80’s teenage running phenom named Zola Budd who trained and ran races barefoot. That’s just how she ran, as did most people where she was from. I’m still mad at her for tripping up my idol Mary Decker, America’s Sweetheart runner in the ‘84 Olympics. I digress.

I have never run barefoot before purposely or, at least any distance. I have shoewear on from the moment I step out of bed until I climb back in 18 hours later.

After much thought and research, which entailed a few Podiatry, medical and sports training journals, magazines and, of course, an internet search… Not only do I completely agree with the reasoning behind barefoot running and training, I have adjusted my thinking regarding certain treatments for patients with certain issues.

I have long wondered why it is that as a runner you train in a thick soled running shoe with an even thicker heel but race in a racing “Flat”. If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. A racing flat is just what the name implies. There is very little cushioning or substance to it. Long before I was a Podiatrist I wondered why that was. Why did and do we continue to train that way? It makes no sense but that’s how it’s always been. Why is it that with the technology and so-called improvements in shoe design are there more and more injuries in runners? Why is it that runners from countries who train barefooted do not have the injury rate that we do?

I feel it has merit in other areas not associated with sports. Allow me to explain. Anyone who has children will attest to the fact that their child will work off any pair of socks, shoes or anything else that you place on their feet, in about 2 seconds flat.

Children just know that it’s better to feel the ground beneath their feet and gauge where the ground is and learn to adjust to the surface, their progress, movement and balance, or proprioception. By placing shoewear on their feet they lose that ‘feel’ for the surface. It also allows them to naturally strengthen their soft tissue structures and bones of the feet the way they’re (we’re all) supposed to. They don’t need any lessons in biomechanics. Nor do they need Nikes, Bass, Buster Brown’s or even little Jimmy Choo’s to ‘help’ them walk better. Sure they’re adorable but it does nothing to enhance the natural way that they’re supposed to develop. My own daughter rarely wears shoes or sneakers at home. When we’re out that’s it’s still a fight to keep her shoes on. She still falls but that’s because she’s getting ahead of herself.

As it is with children, it is with adults. By going without shoewear it allows us to develop and strengthen our leg and feet muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and bones naturally. Biomechanically, it just makes a great deal of sense.

When an athlete or anyone who sprains an ankle for instance, one of the best ways to fully rehab that ankle is by using proprioceptive exercises. This is one of the best ways to recover to almost 100% in a shorter period of time than if you just waited for it to get better. Proprioception is the body’s way of retraining the muscles, ligaments and nerves of an injured area so as to allow the body to ‘re-learn’ to balance itself again.

The basketball team at Northeastern University in Boston does much of their training barefoot because of the same reasoning. Again, I agree from a conditioning and strengthening position as well as from a biomechanical and physics viewpoint.

For someone such as myself who is rarely without shoewear, I have recently embarked on a shoeless campaign of my own to see how this theory pans out. By the end of the summer I hope to have a full report of my own progression of training and running barefoot. I have some biomechanical issues myself and am interested in correcting them. If going without shoewear will help, I’m all for it. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Before I end, I’d like to just say that, in theory, I am all for barefoot running. Or, at least the minimalist view of wearing very little on your feet. This is really only to protect the foot from the wrath of glass, pebbles, metal fragments and any other items that may lay beneath your feet and imbedding themselves and warranting a trip to the nearest urgent care center for surgical removal.

I am not saying that everyone should run or train this way, but I do feel it has merits as an adjunct training program. If you do decide to embark on such a program, please use your head when doing so. Not literally, of course..