Thoughts on foot wear.

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Posts

Like every decision I make, this one has been relentlessly thought out over a period of a drunken half hour.

My foot is injured. I can’t exactly say where, when or why. However there is some obvious tendonosis (yes, that’s spelled right) and maybe some bursitis and other issues with my right foot. What’s happened is that I’ve irritated something and being my usual stubborn self I’ve pushed through the pain until it caused a reflexive change in my stride that’s jacked the rest of my foot right up. I did this most likely by first sprinting in a pair of really ill fitting nikes on a day when I couldn’t find my five fingers, or possibly during the spins* at the highland games, and then trying to prepare for an upcoming fit test. My tendency to put recovering from injuries off until a certain goal is met should make that bet posted at the top of the page more attractive to you.

*The right foot takes a lot of loading when throwing.

I don’t think the injury is solely due to barefoot running. I’m partially convinced it’s due to strapping on those crappy nikes, mostly because when I put them on now and run, it introduces a really odd rolling motion that puts a lot of pressure on my little toe. Most likely it’s due to inadequate recovery and progressing too fast in both running and throwing. Hot swapping shoes just aggravated something that was already there. I’m certain it’s not a stress fracture and while I haven’t been to the doctor, common sense will predict what he’d say better than any psychic hotline.

“Doc I’ve been running barefoot and now my foot hurts.”

“Then stop it, dumbass.”

Any injury is humbling. This one especially so because it’s part of something that I’ve preached with a great deal of passion.  But if you are going to train with any level of intensity, you have to accept that you will accumulate minor injuries as you discover the extent of your physical limits. Still, after my experience with barefoot running, I’m convinced that we think of today as running shoes are fit only for a few people who have stride issues due to injury, illness or deformity. The rest of the population is perfectly capable of learning to run properly, with a stride that will not injure the feet when running barefoot. Their body’s are also perfectly capable of adapting to this stimulus. All that aside, it’s time for me to be shod again for a while.

I need some kind of semi-substantial footwear for several reasons.

1. Injury recovery. (I won’t be running, but I will continue other workouts as long as I don’t experience any pain, I need something to wear for those exercises that bridge the gap between the weight room and the track when my lifting shoes aren’t appropriate.)

2. It’s October, and my five fingers have crap for insulation.

3. Sled Dragging and farmers walks after I recover.

As with weightlifting, when your body is loaded beyond a certain point your feet need some support. Get close to doubling your body weight (like during a heavy farmer’s walk) and start moving and the risk of injury is just too great. Some people, especially among the crossfit community,  will champion training as close to naked as possible. Unless your sport makes you compete that way, the only reason to train that way is bravado. Being hurt sucks, no one will force me to do farmer’s walks barefoot in the foreseeable future, so let’s get some support going.

So, back to that decision…

The trick is finding shoes that offer better support and insulation without destroying or interfering with my stride. After looking over plenty of options I’ve decided to try a pair of spikeless track or cross country racing shoes. Like these:

Note the lack of a huge, reinforced heel. You’ve got better padding, more support but without the muscle wasting over stabilization and stride killing motion control. Beyond that, a few laps around the store should tell me if this is what I need or not.

Here’s to getting better.

(And yes the title is a bad pun)


For anyone who’d like an inexpensive way to try barefoot training, I found these for $29.99 on amazon. I’ll be giving a pair a try later this year. If anyone else buys a pair, please post a comment here and let us know how well they work.


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