Enhancing the Health of the
Everyday Athlete – Efficient
Barefoot Movement
Stephen Gangemi, DC, DIBAK
Moving - Gait
• Gait dysfunction  Health dysfunction
• Kinesthetic sense: the relationship between
the nervous system and the sensory feedback
provided by each foot – 7,000+ nerve endings
• Proprioception: sense of position, posture,
equilibrium
What Disrupts Gait?
• Health Problems:
– Structural (current or past injuries, posture,
excessive training – duration / intensity)
– Nutritional (diet, hormonal stress)
– Emotional
• Improper footwear
• Orthotics – a brace that supports dysfunction
• Nothing worn on the foot can improve its
function
• A bare foot moves in the most efficient,
natural, and healthy way (in a healthy
individual)
Modern Footwear
• Soft midsole
Elevated Heel
Line of falling weight moves
forward with heels
Motion Control
Footwear Industry Claims
•
•
•
•
Run faster
Jump higher
Be stronger
Exercise muscles not otherwise used with
competitor’s shoes or while barefoot
Yet there has never been any research to
validate such claims
Injury Prevention?
• None of which can be substantiated through
any scientific study
• Numerous studies on injury promotion:
– Journal of Injury, Function & Rehabilitation, Dec 2009: Running shoes
protect the feet at the expense of increased joint torques at the hip,
knee, and ankle
– British Journal of Sports Med 2010: Elevated heels and cushioned
shoes relationship to injuries
– Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 1991: Running shoes and
diminished sensory feedback and injury increase
– More: runblogger.com, naturalrunningcenter.com, philmaffetone.com
Barefoot or Shod?
• Recently, there has been a significant move
towards minimalist type shoes and barefoot
walking and running
• Experienced, habitually barefoot runners will
avoid landing on their heel.
• The natural motion during barefoot running is
to land with a midfoot, or even a somewhat
forefoot strike.
• A heel strike (while running) most often
results in a significant stress to the body,
whereas a midfoot or forefoot strike does not
• Most running shoes are developed to promote
a heel strike, and therefore an unnatural
running and gait cycle
Heel strike
Ideally the body’s
center of mass
should be over
the foot for the
lowest loading
rate
Midfoot/forefoot strike
Healthy Footwear
• No arch support – the arch needs to flatten
upon impact to dissipate shock
• Arch supports support the arch, not the ends
of the arch  a weak and dysfunctional foot
Low Stack & Drop
• Stack Height
11mm heel
• Drop
• “Zero-Drop”
11-7=4mm drop
7mm forefoot
Shock
• No Stability or Motion Control – natural
pronation deflects shock
• Tibialis Posterior plays an important role
Toe Box
• No cramped toe box – so the toes can splay
apart to soften landing
Widest at the
toes
Cushioning? No!
• Cushioning does not absorb shock – it tricks
the body by sending false information to the
brain – “Is this a soft surface or hard?”
The Harder the Surface the Softer the
Landing
Nice Gait Kid!!
• The harder the ground the more the
body will adjust with more knee
flexion and pronation
• Pavement is the easiest to walk/run
on barefoot
• Natural terrain is unpredictable
The Ideal Shoe?
• Depends on the individual,
• But generally:
•Roomy forefoot (1/3-1/2” in front of big toe)
•Close to the ground throughout (low to zero-drop
and a low stack height)
•Wide Toe Box
•Flexible in all directions
•Firm sole (not soft or “cushiony”)
Barefoot as much as possible, shoes
when needed
• Wear shoes that will not harm you during your daily activities
and during exercise; this includes disrupting your gait
• Notice that the word “benefit” was not used, as footwear is
not meant for this reason
• Footwear should only protect the feet from damage that may
occur from the particular environment
• There is a transition period into more barefoot walking and
minimalist-type shoes as the weakened muscles, tendons, &
ligaments regain their strength; transition as comfortably and
as safely as you can
More on Barefoot, Minimalism,
and Injury Prevention & Treatment
www.sock-doc.com
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Check out my power point presentation on barefoot and - Sock-Doc