There is so much talk these days about barefoot running (referred to as “BFR” in the running community) so I’ve decided to see if there’s any feedback or ruling that says Barefoot Running is better, worse, or indifferent, for feet blessed with bunions.
Sure, there are brands such as Asics who are kind enough to lend a line of their shoes to bunion sufferers. Bunion windows and wide toe boxes do help, but maybe it’s best to just throw out the traditional shoe and let those toes run free. The popular flavor of BFR shoes these days seem to be the Vibram Fivefingers (VFF) shown below.
Here’s a few of the opinions I’ve found in the world of Barefoot Bunion Running;
- Barefoot is Better. Some critics go right to the source..before being introduced to shoes. Why do we have bunions? Could they be attributed to flat arches, improperly working foot muscles? Of course there are feet that are just genetically predisposed to bunions, but just as with all predisposed conditions, there are things that can be done to prevent getting, or worsening the condition (such as the Bunion Bootie). Believers in BFR think that by strengthening the muscles and ligaments, the toes can be made stronger and actually be rehabilitated. Regardless of the shoes, they think bare is better. Work with the hand you’ve been dealt naturally.
- Blame the shoes! Some think that most modern running or PECH shoes (Pronation control, Elevated, Cushioned, Heel…AKA: ALL SHOES!) converts most runners into Heel Strikers, terrible for shock and pounding. If you ever tried jogging around in a member of the BFR shoe family you know it’s very uncomfortable to land on your heel. Additionally, these same folks think that most casual or dress shoes (certainly high heels) have a tendency to elevate the heel just slightly over the level of the ball of the foot. This put unnecessary and unwanted additional pressure on the front of the foot, possibly resulting in many of our foot ailments today. This group votes “no shoes” and seem to think they (shoes) are the root of all foot evil. If BFR shoes allow you to ditch all the poor positioning achieved in modern shoes, then this believers in this school of thought are all for it.
- No Shirt, No Shoes... Then there’s the nay-sayers that think that one should NEVER try barefoot running… They firmly believe that even“healthy” feet (defined as those without excessively high arches, feet that do not belong to diabetics, and are free of significant deformities including bunions, hammertoes, and other bone problems, should NOT attempt BFR. Running barefoot forces you to hit the ground first on the ball of your foot rather then the heel. If you are susceptible to bunions, this might exacerbate the condition due to the impact on the forefoot. Well, at least you’ll save the $120 that you would have otherwise thrown down for the VFF’s…unless that is, you bought the NIKE Free Run+ which emulates barefoot running without the “barefoot”, which is nice if you are trekking down gravel or uneven terrain.
Iguess the jury is still out. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes. Personally I have to think that just by separating the big and second toe, that this will remove some of the pressure caused by bunions and as long as you are not piling on the miles, could actually work to help you improve your gait that’s likely been modified due to the the new found position of the big toe. Certainly I feel the ball of my foot spread out as I land on it versus the heel, but fortunately the properties of the VFF material allow the bunion to move without being pressed up against a barrier.
To be continued…..we welcome all barefoot running feedback, bunion or no bunion.
- Barefoot running – Vibram Bikilas (madewithloveuk.wordpress.com)
- Campaign Takes On Barefoot Running Craze (adweek.com)
- Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D.: The Shoe Fits, But Does It Help or Hurt Your Health? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Criteria For a Safe Transition to Minimalist Shoes or Barefoot Running: Thoughts From Jay Dicharry, PT (runblogger.com)
- Advertising: Appealing to Runners, Even the Barefoot Brigade (nytimes.com)
- Adidas launches barefoot shoe (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Prepare for Autumn Hikes with Supportive Foot Braces and Splints (prweb.com)