Barefoot on the Pavement: A New Kind of Running
Spring is finally here! (I mean, gosh, it took long enough, right?) The second it even starts to get nice outside, I get that old feeling back- I want to run. Not in a gym, on a treadmill, not inside on a track- that’s to running what swimming indoors is to free-styling in the Caribbean. I want to get outdoors and run as far as I can, in the fresh air. And I know a lot of my physical therapy clients feel this way too.
Running is the most fundamental of exercises. In a way, it’s what we humans were made to do. And recently, I’ve become really fascinated by the natural running movement. For those of you who don’t know, natural running is running barefoot, or as close to it as you can get. The theory is that our feet were made to get tough and hard, like our prehistoric ancestors who chased prey. So what’s wrong with shoes? As the fascinating blog, Barefoot Runner, puts it; shoes are like morphine- they deaden the pain and the soul, I mean sole. (I’m paraphrasing just a bit- but it’s a great read!) As a result, the way we run wreaks havoc on our bodies. We’re doing it wrong!
Now, I’m not saying you should head over to the East River and run barefoot. But I did try out this nifty pair of shoes, the Vibram Bikila LS, which try to give you the barefoot feeling without the fear of getting glass in your toe. They were amazing! So what are the benefits of running barefoot? Well, you won’t land so hard on your heel- in fact you’ll land more forward on your foot. As a result, you’ll activate the all-important core much more, so that the impact of your feet on the pavement will be much more dispersed through your gait cycle. You’ll run lighter, and cleaner, and- if you’re doing it right- with less stress on your heels, knees and hips. I must, however, caveat, as always- if you have issues from running, only proceed with advice from your physical therapist and doctor!
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Best Physical Therapist NYC
Karena Wu, PT, MS
ActiveCare Physical Therapy
12 W 37th Street
New York, NY 10018