Running barefoot: Saving money or spending it on the doctor ? & How to Cycle shoes !

If you are running ~50 miles a week, and you change your shoes every 400-500 miles, you are likely to buy around 6 pairs of shoes a year.  At 100$ a pop that is 600$ a year.  Sure, it is much cheaper than many sports but when you figure in a few race entry fees, socks, some apparel etc it does add up somewhat.  Sure, you can spend that on a good pair of bike rims, so all things are relative. 

But if you want to go overboard, and dive into the barefoot revolution you could save all that money for other stuff.  In the article link above, McDougall tells DailyFinance he has saved “thousands of dollars” going shoeless. “It’s not so much about running barefoot,” says McDougall, who has a feature about shoeless running in this Sunday’s New York Times. “It’s about not buying something you don’t need."  Arch enemies of the movement say it’s dangerous. Aficionados swear that the ball-first ground strike promoted by barefoot running allows the cushiest part of your foot to naturally absorb shock, whereas the traditional shod heel-first impact jars the entire body. The American Podiatric Medical Association explains in a statement that the evidence on both sides is inconclusive. ”

See full article from DailyFinance:

What do The Gait Guys have to say about all of this ?

If you are going to go for pure barefoot to save a buck, you better have the proper anatomy and technique to do it properly.  Two doctors visits for an unnecessary injury will blow that saved cash in a big hurry. 

Here is a tip we give our runners to help the foot out a little bit. It requires buying 2 pairs of shoes at the same time but there is some logic to it to help avoid doctors visits.

EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) foam deforms. The midsole of your shoe is made of EVA foam.  After thousands of compressions of your body weight into your shoe/EVA your biomechanics (and problems) become reflected into the foam.  And if your biomechanics are not pristine you will begin to deform the shoe’s foam.  This shortens the life of the shoe, the healthy life of the shoe. 

For example, put a heavy pronator into a neutral shoe, in time the shoe begins to collapse medially.  The  medial foam suffers more compression, the lateral suffers less.  The shoe now begins to subtly slope inwards reflecting the pronators biomechanical flaw into the foam.  As the runner continues into the higher miles on the shoe (200+) the deformed slope of the last now acts as a guide promoting the foot to pronate even further and more abruptly. What sort of proprioceptive informational message are you sending to your brain and central nervous system?

Now the shoe is part of the problem, possibly driving injury and pathology.   We could argue that this is the time for a new shoe, not waiting until the odometer on the shoe reaches 400 or 500 miles.  We do not care what shoe you are wearing, even companies that swear that their shoe will take 1000 miles.  Sure the outsole might take it, but if the wrong foot is in the wrong shoe for that foot, the foam (if there is foam) will follow this compressive path of what the foot is making it do.  The foot is usually the guy with the bigger steering wheel, not the shoe. 

So, back to our point and purpose.  Here is what we recommend for our runners who use shoes.  Buy two pairs.  Once you  hit 200 miles, begin alternating the new shoe for the one that already had the 200.  Yes, this is going to take some log work in your diary.  This way, you are never in the aging and slowly deforming shoe more than one day in a row.  You are only one day away from a new(er) shoe that does not reflect any EVA foam deformation.  By the time the first shoe is dead and needs replaced, you are at the 200-250 mark on the other shoe.  Replace the old and the process begins again.  This way you reduce the degree of compromise that a deforming EVA foam shoe will be placing on your biomechanics, and lets face it, it is a rare person that has pristine biomechanics. 

So, use our recommendation and you will likely reduce your injuries and save some money on the doctor. And while you are at it, see someone like us for a running evaluation and clinic or go see our friends at Newton Running Clinics or Natural Running Centers.  Changing the way you run can take many of the variables out of the picture.  Yes, your running style is part of the game, but you can only do what your anatomy will allow. For example, if you are unlucky enough to have rearfoot valgus you need some help regaining rearfoot inversion control.  But some folks are born with this tendency from a structural aspect, and they should consider what we have talked about above………. that or find a pool (If you catch our drift)  .

Shawn and Ivo, …….. the nerds you tried to beat up at recess in elementary school (but quickly found out we had superpowers so you befriended us (or paid us to do your homework)).