The History and Basics of Barefoot Running: Today most runners focus on having the best footwear available for their workouts. Shoe companies have designed supportive and cushioned footwear, which is the new norm for running. However, throughout most of history, running was completed while barefoot or only using very minimal covering, such as moccasins.
Throughout the years, a handful of Olympians have competed while running barefoot, and have found success. Outside of the U.S. barefoot running has been common, especially in underdeveloped countries where shoes are a commodity only for those who can afford them.
The Risks When NOT Barefoot Running
Modern day running shoes have been blamed for many running injuries, especially those which are chronic in nature. Studies conducted comparing regular shoe users with barefoot runners have shown that those who wear cushioned shoes tend to land hard on their heels, rather than landing towards the middle of the foot or on the ball, otherwise known as the forefoot step.
Some of the benefits of barefoot running include:
- The strengthening of certain arch muscles – muscles that normally don’t get a workout when wearing traditional running shoes.
- Less oxygen consumption due to less energy being used.
- Decreased risk of ankle sprains, so you are less likely to end up with subluxing peroneal tendons (explained further below).
- Decreased risk of plantar fascitis and other chronic leg injuries.
However, there are risks involved, so when deciding to switch to barefoot running there are many things to be considered. You are far more prone to external foot injuries when running barefoot. Puncture wounds, scrapes, scratches, and bruises may afflict your feet, especially if you choose to run on rough ground. These can become dangerous if they get infected, and they can also delay your training. So that is a risk that is always there when you run barefoot.
Barefoot Running and the Weather
The weather can also have a huge effect on your training if you are running sans shoes. Running on ice or snow can be extremely dangerous without a surface between your foot and the ground. The skin on your foot simply can not grip the slippery surfaces as well as a rubber sole can. Your feet can also be burned or frozen depending on how extreme the outdoor weather is.
If you have diabetes or any other condition which detracts from the sensations that can be felt in your feet, do not attempt to run barefoot, as you are at a higher risk of injury.
But if these different problems are weighing on your mind when you are considering making the switch, you may want to think about minimalist-style running. Many companies are starting to manufacture shoes that act as a very thin, protective layer over your foot. Vibram Five Fingers, Merrell, Nike, and Altra Sports are all making their own versions of these zero drop shoes.
Ready for the switch to Barefoot Running?
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about switching over to barefoot running, and make sure to transition slowly and carefully to avoid injuries during the transition process. It takes a little time to get your body used to running in the barefoot way but once you switch, you’ll never go back to normal running!
What is a Subluxing Peroneal Tendon?
Subluxing peroneal tendons can be a quite devastating injury to incur. If you have an active lifestyle, you should definitely know about the risk of this injury. You may be asking, “What is a subluxing peroneal tendon”? Basically it’s an ankle injury normally caused by a bad sprain, where the tendons which run behind your outer ankle bone are no longer held in place. Subluxation is just a fancy term meaning “partial dislocation”. The peroneal tendons run behind the outer ankle bone and are stretched out every time you take a step.
Normally there is tissue holding your tendons in a groove behind your ankle bone. This tissue, called the retinaculum, keeps them from popping out of place. However, in a bad ankle sprain, the retinaculum can be torn or stretched out beyond repair. The reason that this area does not repair itself is because there is not a lot of blood is pumped to that area, and a healthy flow of blood is needed to repair certain types of damage after an injury.
How do you know if you have Subluxing Peroneals?
When you sprain your ankle badly, make sure that you take it very easy until you are able to apply pressure again. Use crutches and don’t overwork yourself. This recovery period could take a couple of days, or a couple of weeks depending on the severity of the sprain.
Do you notice that the greatest pain is emanating from the area surrounding your ankle bone? That is your first clue that you may have an even greater problem. When you touch the bone if there is pain, then it is likely that you have either fractured the bone, or injured your retinaculum, which connects to the bone.
Perhaps the biggest sign that you may have subluxing peroneals is the very characteristic ankle “pop” that may or may not be heard, but will definitely be felt each time it happens. This pop happens when the peroneal tendons come up and over the outer ankle bone. It may or may not be a painful experience, but the feeling is very distinct and you will know if it happens to you. If you feel this happen, even one time, then sorry to say it, but you have subluxing peroneal tendons.
What should I do if I have Peroneal Tendon Subluxation?
Unfortunately the only “cure” that is likely to work and stop your ankle from popping, is to have surgery. If you choose not to have surgery, then you risk tearing your peroneal tendons with every step you take. Each time the tendons pop up and over the bone, they are stretched in an unnatural way. Allowing this to continue can lead to an even more serious surgery if you re-sprain your ankle. Once the tendons are torn, the surgery becomes an emergency, and the recovery will be much longer.
Don’t waste your time going to a regular doctor if you suspect subluxing peroneals. Go straight to an ankle specialist or to a sports medicine doctor. You will waste time and money at a regular doctor’s office because this condition is fairly rare. Often it is misdiagnosed.
If you have joint hyper-mobility, or if you are born with a shallow groove behind your ankle bone, then you are more likely to suffer from this ailment. Active athletes are also at risk because of the strenuous levels of exercise that they often participate in. Cardio workout injuries are common. Though they can’t always be avoided, there are some things that can be done to avoid getting them.