By Kristi Moore, MSPT of Alpine Physical Therapy
More and more of our patients at Alpine Physical Therapy have been asking if they should try running barefoot or in a minimalist shoe. There are pros and cons to making this leap. The pros include: using our feet and lower extremities the way they were originally meant to be used for running; an increase in strength in our feet and entire leg; and for some an improved mechanics/form with running technique. As mentioned above a shoe changes the way our foot and leg function with walking and running.
Of course where this could be great for some individuals, it may also cause multiple problems for many others. The cons include: increased stress to the foot and leg if there is not proper strength/alignment to begin with; injury to the soft tissue of the foot; possible significant injury to the foot or leg if not done in a gradual manner.
The fact is that most of us wear shoes for a large part of our day and our feet/legs have adapted to this. Therefore, if we are wanting to revert to a more natural gait with running there are strength and alignment issue which should be addressed. Also a gradual program would be highly recommended, as our muscles and joints need time to adapt to this significant change. IF you are unsure if this is something you should try I definitely recommend talking with a physical therapist to see if this could improve your running.