Going Barefoot…almost! My barefoot experience and is it right for you? Part III

Going Barefoot…almost! My barefoot experience and is it right for you? Part III

As many of you have read, I have taken on an experiment of two weeks wearing a barefoot type shoe by Tune Footwear. As mentioned in the first part of this series, Tune Footwear contacted me and asked me to try their shoes for a couple of weeks. While I was at it, I also purchased a pair of Vibram 5 fingers minimalist shoes that claim to simulate the effect of running barefoot.

Tune makes a very good quality shoe, with a negative heel similar to the Earth shoe idea. As in most of my posts on the subject and based on years of observation, those who are built asymmetrically require a little help with a foot orthotic. Those who are true believers in barefoot running and walking believe that everyone ideally was designed to walk barefoot, yet mainly due to inherited traits (discussed in detail in the book Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain), people will feel better with orthotics if they are markedly asymmetrical. Asymmetry, as discussed in Cheating Mother Nature, leads to chronic pain through mechanisms that include the myofascia.

I have done two videos that I used to illustrate the point’s I am making in this article since they prove my point; those who have a marked asymmetry will do better with shoes that have some correction, while others may do quite well in a minimalist shoe if they are built for it. Since our build is inherited, and these traits vary depending on our lineage, there is no one size fits all solution.

So, how did I do after running with vibram 5 fingers a few times and walking with Tune’s minimalist shoe?

After a few days of soreness (accommodation to a different gait style), my overall body felt ok however, at the end of long days, my hips were quite stiff as well as my upper back, more than normal. Perhaps, it has to do with my being brought up in shoes as most barefoot enthusiasts suggest, however, the video’s tell a different story. See below

Dr. Charschan running with Vibram 5 fingers and then Brooks Shoes with Superfeet orthotics.

Notice the under stride that occurs on the right side with the secondary over stride on the left, and then the compensation that occurs. As described in Cheating Mother Nature, this will cause torsion in the thoraco lumbar region, tightening of the myofascia and eventually pain in the shoulders. Also note the loud volume of the treadmill. In the second part of the video, while running in Brooks with Superfeet, notice the upper body moves better and symmetry is markedly improved while the volume of the treadmill is lower, indicating a softer landing. While the running speed is the same, the improved symmetry, and more open stride suggests this is less stressful on this runners body. Perhaps, this can lead us to a better understanding of why runners who are running shod and have asymmetries that go uncorrected in their shoes have problems because they will under and over stride. If they switch to barefoot or minimalist, they will do the same but with a shorter stride and will likely endure other problems since the gait method is modified.

Video 2, walking with Tune Footwear vs. regular shoes

In this video, you can see how the over and under stride is the same as in the running video, but since I am walking, my stride is less open. You will notice that with the Powerstep insoles, my gait is more symmetrical than with the Tune Footwear shoes. Also, the sound of the treadmill is not as loud indicating a softer ground impact.

My Impressions

Since shoes and the way we walk is linked to our body style and body mechanics, and since my build is asymmetrical, wearing shoes with either orthotics or sandals with arches is best for me. As mentioned in this review earlier, after two weeks of wearing the Tune Footwear shoes, I felt very tight in the hips and neck. On Monday, I returned to wearing my regular shoes and did notice an improvement of how I felt as compared to the Tune Footwear shoes.

1. How do you know weather barefoot or non barefoot is good for you?

As discussed in Cheating Mother Nature, those who are built asymmetrically are likely to do best running or walking shod with orthotics. This is of course considering your custom or off the shelf orthotics are in good repair or in the case of custom, were casted appropriately.

2. What can you do to figure this out for yourself?

If you look at your feet, and one naturally turns out more than the other, running or walking in shoes will most likely be best for you, if you are fairly symmetrical, try going barefoot, it may work better.

3. Would I recommend Tune Footwear’s shoes to others

If you are more symmetrically built, absolutely! If you are asymmetrical, shod with a foot orthotic is a better choice.

Read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain available through Amazon.com and other booksellers.