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Huarache running sandal party at Hacker Dojo

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running Shoes, Huaraches, Running Sandals | Posted on 04-10-2010

Want to make your own barefoot running sandals and hang out with other cool, smart people?

Then check out the Hacker Dojo huarache making party!

More details at http://events.hackerdojo.com/event/333001-shoe-making-party

Will Barefoot Running Heal My Injuries?

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running, Barefoot Running Shoes | Posted on 02-10-2010

I’ve written about the barefoot running / shoe debate before, but I want to highlight a specific point that comes up in the conversation, namely, will barefoot running hurt you or cure you?

The short answer is:

Who knows?

It’s not as simple as: take off your shoes and you’ll be instantly cured of every injury you’ve ever had, able to run without effort for days at a time, and awarded the key to every city you breeze through on your double-marathon-a-day cross country jog.

Running barefoot is an invitation.

An invitation to, first, listen to the sensations in your feet and the rest of your body. And then, secondly, an invitation to change what you’re doing based on that information.

It’s not a contest to see if you can endure pain until “your feet toughen up.”

(For the record, if you check out the feet of any good barefoot runner, they are NOT calloused, blistered, or tough. And, for the record, I’m not talking about Kenyans or Tarahumara who grow up doing everything barefoot… that’s a completely different situation than running for 5-50 miles a week in a controlled fashion.)

So, back to the question at hand…

If you listen to your body (that is, pay attention to when something is uncomfortable), and adjust your form, and continue to explore the question, “How can I make this easier, lighter, softer, faster?” then guess what you’ll probably clear up:

Any problems or injuries you had from not doing the above.

If your injuries and aches and pains were caused by bad form, then changing your form to something better could heal what ails you. Seems pretty obvious, yes?

But, again, this doesn’t happen just because you’ve taken off your shoes — as I mentioned here — it’s possible to be barefoot and still do everything wrong, namely, not listening, and not changing.

Going barefoot, or wearing huaraches gives you an opportunity to listen, to adapt, to explore, and to discover what can happen for you… if you take the opportunity.

Some medical professionals (most of whom, it seems, have never run barefoot at all, let alone on a hard surface) will argue, “There are no studies that show that barefoot running heals injuries!”

Absolutely correct.

There are also no studies that show it causes more injuries, even though some medical professionals make that claim. And it seems that claim is based, as far as I can tell, from their lack of understanding of statistics and sample bias — that is, they only see the ones who are injured, not the ones who aren’t… and don’t know the total number of barefoot runners so they can’t tell if this is more/less problematic than shod running. Plus, again, it’s not just a question of whether someone is running barefoot (or minimalist), but HOW they’re doing it.

I know I’m getting a bit redundant and circular here… my apologies.

Look, I’m not a die-hard “Everyone must be barefoot!” guy. Granted, in the last year I’ve only worn something other than huaraches or my sprinting spikes when I had to spend a lot of time in the snow. And, yes, running barefoot did improve my form and eliminate a number of injuries that had plagued me.

Barefoot vs. shod running is still a conversation. And a new one at that.

I hope the conversation can continue long enough, and with enough attention that we have some real answers, answers that help people run with lightness, freedom, and fun.