Should I do barefoot walking?
This is a big question I get from a lot of my patients and both myself and Dr. Feldman talk extensively to our patients about barefoot running. There is a new craze out there and new types of shoes and many different types of online resources about people that do barefoot running. If you are from Mexico or Africa where you are used to barefoot running it is probably okay. However, the big problem in the United States is that we start from a very young age sitting all the time – at school and then at our jobs, and then we have a culture where we are very, very tight in our hip flexors. Since our hip flexors are tight we are not able to stretch out enough and we tend to run by pushing on our foot as we propel ourselves forward as you can see in this image. When you barefoot run you need to have your foot lay flat on the ground and you need to lift at your hip with your hip flexors and allow your foot to land flat. Many people are not able to do this for a couple of reasons. First, they are very, very tight and their muscles are not working well to allow them to do that type of an action. Second, our shoes are made such that you should be heel striking with that type of a shoe; as you can see it is built up on the back of the shoe. Therefore, for people to barefoot run, it is very important to be careful what type of shoe you are wearing. When someone goes from having a high heel, either in a shoe or in a running shoe with a big heel in it, it can be very challenging for you to go to what we call a zero drop or a minimalist shoe that has no heel on it. Many times this can cause pain in your Achilles tendon, it can cause other types of tendonitis, and even from the lack of support you can develop a stress fracture in your foot. The rule of thumb is to go easy and go slow when barefoot running. Start with walking barefoot, then go on to jogging, and then work your way up to let your bones strengthen so you do not get any other problems. Should you have any pain when doing this, you should seek out professional help for barefoot running.