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Barefoot & Minimalist - Any risk of pathologies?

Barefoot and minimalist footwears are questioned to contribute to metatarsal stress fractures.

We will discuss the precautions to take when wearing those atypical footwears or when running barefoot.

A guenine mainspring : Sports shoes used to reduce your tactile and proprioceptive sensitivities. The range of « anatomical » equipments (Such as right and left socks, Vibram Five Finger shoes…) leads to preserve these sensibilities. Frequently, you first talk about your feeling of discomfort because something changed as soon as the heel of your shoes became lower in your new pair of shoes. Reducing the height of your running shoes heel means reducing the risk of ankle-ligament injuries during excessive Inversion and/or Eversion.

The period between the heel impact and the full foot contact on the ground is called Loading Response. This period is lengthened when the shoe heel is higher.

During this period, your main need is a good foot stability. (During the foot strike your main foot need was to be cushioned.) A poor foot stability needs a better foot control and an optimum reactivity from tendons and muscles.

In short, Barefoot and minimalist shoes tend to reduce the frequency of some chronic injuries. For this reason, this trend can look like a genuine mainspring!

How to start with this new trend ? Running with minimalist shoes need a proper adaptation to keep a safety running gait cycle. Downward force (Body weight) and upward force (Ground reaction) are transfered to ligaments, fasciae and muscles, which are all able to absorb those forces naturally and effectively.

Rigid ground and thin soles of running shoes with few cushioning can cause a certain discomfort when your foot strike the ground on the mid/forefoot.

You will use your muscles and tendons with few protection. Your foot arches will tend to collapse, you must pay attention to the numerous consequences of this phenomenon.

We advise you to reinforced your fibrous skeleton (muscles, fasciae, ligaments) because it is the only one that support you.

It’s only after practicing several weeks and without a proper training that ligament injuries (such as Achille tendinitis, plantar fasciitis,…) can be considered the result of Barefoot/minimalist shoes.

PLease follow our advice bellow or go and meet our partners.

Directions for use :

– By landing on the hind foot when you’re running with minimalist shoes you are over-stretching the fibrous structure going from the back of your knee to the ball of your foot. With time, that can lead to mechanical pathologies affecting calf muscles, Achille tendon, heel bone or plantar fascia.

– By landing on the mid-forefoot when you’re running with minimalist shoes, you feel a stiffness in your calf. A feeling that you need to watch if you want avoid a tear by overuse of the structure described above… Barefoot and minimalist shoes are not a trend but they require a specific trainting and a time of adaptation to avoid injuries.

Metatarsal Stress Fractures :

Throughout our readings about pathologies caused by barefoot running or minimalist shoes, Metatarsal Stress Fractures is by far the most encountered. This footwear trend seems easy to understand. Forces which are transferring to the foot during each step is up to 3 times your body’s weight, the weight is distributed to your front and mid foot and not to your heel anymore, your heel lost its function of support. Landing on the forefoot on 10 km distance is like striking roughly the ground between 7 000 to 10 000 times.

Conclusion :

Before you embark on this new adventure, make sure you: - Have no current injury, even if you are treating it ; - Adopt a well-balanced diet and proper hydratation; - Add exercises to stretch and relief your lower limbs; - Some plyometric exercises could help you to listen and control your entire body. - Start this new "way of run" on a short distance or on a small part of your regular circuit.

Above everything else, let your body take time to “return to natural” !

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