Barefoot Training Part-2

Friday Night Blog Post? Why not? I started this on the plane the other day…

I have been on the road a ton lately. Just this last week I have made two trips to Arizona and one to Denver. They were all good, productive trips. I had some very productive meetings at NASM corporate in AZ and attended a very helpful performance management training course alongside many of the managers from the Mesa office as well. I had a great time in Denver. I shot some footage for NASM TV, taught a corrective Exercise Specialist Workshop for NASM and got to see some friends for dinner Friday night. I even shot some video footage for the CPT Assist eTeach course Saturday night. Needless to say I was wiped out by the end of Saturday! Leading the workshops for NASM has been one of favorite parts of my “jobs” over the last ten years. More specifically, I have really come to enjoy teaching others.

As I shared to my Corrective Exercise class in Denver as well as on my NASM TV shoot, my first opportunity to educate other professionals came when I was working as personal trainer for 24 Hour Fitness in Aurora, CO.

Where it all started...

I’ll save the long story for another day, but knowing that I have made a contribution to others makes me feel amazing. They may use the information for themselves or to help their clients, it doesn’t make a difference to me. At the Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Chicago, I had a packed house for the hands on session.

I had a blast in Chicago and Providence!

I mean people were spilling out into the hallways. It was awesome. The title of my session was “Save Your Back: get Your Butt in Gear.” After my hands on breakout session a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. She had pain radiating down her posterior and lateral hip for some time and could not find relief despite seeing several medial professionals. She was overjoyed that she was experiencing relief. All I taught the group to do was NASM’s four step Corrective Exercise (CEx)process- Inhibit, Lengthen, Activate and Integrate. I focused on the lumbo-pelvic hip complex and threw in my own wrinkles to the stretching and activation section, but it was NASM CEx straight up. To be able to provide someone relief from pain is a great feeling. I home that she keeps up with her program and can in turn pass the techniques and system on to others.


You have me on a cross country flight with a full battery, so I have some time to give you a nice solid post! Okay, back to barefoot training. Last post I wrote about progressing sensibly from a supportive shoe to a minimalist shoe if there were no injuries or congenital conditions that made barefoot training contraindicated. During Mark Verstegen’s lecture at Perform Better, he even gave a history of minimalist shoes and provided pictures of the best minimalist shoes on the market today. He cited a research study that compared 186 pairs of feet. He compared the feet of people who did not wear shoes to the feet of people who did wear shoes. If you want to read the study, search for “J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1905, Conclusions Drawn from A comparative Study of Barefooted and Shoe-Wearing Peoples, Hoffman, M.D.” Hoffman found that the barefoot group had more separation and straightness to their toes with the toes being the widest portion of the foot. Verstegen also included a picture of a Bronze Herculaneum Statue that depicted a runner and the adduction to the great toe (the big toe) is much more prominent than what I see with my clients, patients and athletes today. For those who wear shoes, especially something like a cowboy boot, women’s high fashion shoes or anything with a small and restrictive toe box, this is basically going to compact the tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges.

Look at that big toe...and it only ges worse from here

This can happen in men’s professional shoes and kids sneakers too. The shock absorption of the foot is all but eliminated. The rich amount of proprioceptors in the sole of the feet are shut down. Imagine walking around with a canvas bag tied tightly over your head all day. How well would you be able to process information?

I magine a rope around the bag...

All of the ground reaction forces that should be stored and released throughout the kinetic chain and propel someone through the gait cycle are now forced to be transmitted to the knees, hips spine and beyond. Ambulating now requires more effort and places more stress throughout the human movement system. Think of all of the professional basketball players in the 1900’s. The all wore Chuck Taylors, Converse All Stars. Chucks basically were and are just a shank of rubber with some canvas and a lace. It did not have arch support and had a wider toe box than most shoes seen today. It also did not have an elevated heel. This let the calve sit at it’s natural resting length and kept the pelvis better balanced. I have a pair that I wear during when performing yard and house work and a pair that I wear in public. The public ones are cleaner and more respectable. The house work ones have paint stains and are much grungier. For $35-$40 they are worth every penny. I used to train clients in them and work out in them too. I have to admit, lifting, kettlebells, core and flexibility were more comfortable than agility or cardio with them on. I wanted to slowly bridge the gap from the Asics 2150 pronation control show than I had been wearing for a year or so, and a minimalist shoe like the Vibram Five Fingers.

And the Chucks were a good cheap option. My feet felt so comfortable and cozy all wrapped up in my Asics. The arch support felt good from ankle to hip….but the elevate heel aggravated my sacroiliac joint and low back to no end. I could just feel them tightening up as the day went. At the time I had a standing desk, so when I wasn’t training clients I would work standing up. So being upright with those shoes was not a good fit for me. Notice I said for me…

I did try a minimalist shoe back in 2005 when Nike came out with their Free 5.0. They launched the shoe at IDEA World and I happened to presenting a Speed Agility and Quickness for Youth session for NASM there. I saw the shoe, bought a pair. Like them so much that after three days at the show, I went back and bought a second. I still have the newer pair! What happened, because I had some 1st MTP, ankle and LPCH issues that were unresolved is that after a week or so I started getting some aches and pains and slowly moved away from them. I put them on every now and then, but the 5.0 still has too much of a heel for me. Their 3.0 is even lower and the 7.0 is even higher in the heel, so they provide their customers with some choices which is nice. Nike toe boxes tend to run on the narrow side as well and I did feel a bit restricted through the toes as well.
From there I went to a New Balance tennis trainer that had minimal arch support and a very low heel. I liked these. Unfortunately, the discontinued the model and I could not find a second pair anywhere and I eventually had to move on. I found some funky orange Teva walking shoes that I tried for a while. I still have them somewhere. A physical therapist that was helping me with my joint restrictions in my big toe and ankle thought that I needed some more support so I tried some over the counter shoe inserts called Superfeet. They run about $30 and have three versions that range in level of support. They were decent.

Another physical therapist that I saw thought that I needed even more support and convinced me to go with the Asic 2130. This worked great for the foot ankle as I mentioned and I matriculated to the newer 2150 model from there.

Until I said enough is enough with the stinking elevated heel! The reason that these pronation control shoes need the heel is that they need a place for the arch support to “sit” in. That is one of the reasons that the Superfeet did not help out my Tevas very much. The Tevas were flat from heel to toe, there was no “drop”. So the arch support had minimal support underneath it and did not have the desired effect. I knew that, but thought it was better than nothing. I also ran into some plantar fascia pain, yes plantar fasciitis, last year while transitioning to my Chucks. I saw a podiatrist to try and find out more about my 1st MTP and ankle restrictions. He started off well talking about the global effect of foot ankle issues and the potential negative impact of wearing shoes with an elevated heel. He recommended Spenco arch supports which I found on Amazon for less than @$10.

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They seemed to help in my Chucks some, so I stuck with them for a couple of months. Then he ended one of our appointments by saying that I had some pathologies in my feet and I would eventually have to have surgery…I disagree, so I never went back.

If you haven’t seen this, there is some amazing info on this DVD I put together. I used some of these techniques to help with my foot pain

That’s all for tonight. I’ll be back for part 3 soon! Thank you for reading!

Eric Beard
CEO A-Team
Corrective Exercise Specialist

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This entry was posted in A-Team, achilles tendonitis, arch supports, Corrective Exercise, Eric Beard, fascia, foot pain, joint mobility, NASM CPT, nasm live workshop, runner's knee, runners, running injuries, running shoes, self myofascial release, shin splints and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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