Reader Story: Turning to Barefoot Running for Pain Relief

This was shared with us by Carson, a 59 year old, who had recently started running barefoot as a way to get back into shape and start running again.  Previously he had to stop running due to severe knee and back pain.  Never a fan of shoes he was inspired to finally take the plunge to go barefoot after he read Born to Run.  Just how dedicated to barefoot running is he?  Well there was only one stretch of road where it was clear of debris so he started running back and forth on that little stretch.  Now that’s dedication.  Read on to see what happened.

I have been running barefoot on asphalt for about six weeks now. Since the only place where there’s smooth asphalt is a quarter mile stretch downhill, I’ve been running up and down and up and down the hill. The road has too many pebbles. I bought some cheap sneakers and have run on the road with pebbles but it is not as comfortable as running barefoot. I have been looking at five-fingers shoes but there aren’t alot available at this time and none that I am really interested in in my size and since I want to try them on for size before I buy I guess I’ll have to wait awhile for those.

I started very slowly just running a quarter mile and walking back. Because of my feet and because I was very out-of-shape. I quit running years ago because my knees and back would hurt so I thought maybe I was getting too old. (I’m 59) But I always disliked shoes and when I read Born to Run it made perfect sense to me as the time I quit running coincided with the time I was buying better and better running shoes. I gradually increased my barefoot runs until I’m now running over a mile up and down the hill almost every day. My knees and back do not hurt from this. I did have to pay attention in the beginning to strike my foot on the pad by my toes and not my heel but now it’s automatic.

My feet have completely changed. My toes and my ankle and the top of my foot is thicker. I have always been flat-footed but there is now an arch. So it does appear that there are muscles in the foot and even the toes that are barely used when they are encased in cushy, supportive shoes. I got shin splints in the beginning from running down hill so much but that seems to have passed.

I have a callous on the pads of my feet but sometimes that part will get a little irritated from the uneveness of the asphalt. That’s my experience so far. When I can get a pair of five-fingers I’ll run on the road with the pebbles for variety and see how that goes.

Wishing you the best of luck Carson!  Hopefully you get a pair of FiveFingers soon and so you won’t have to deal with foot irritation again.

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  • Leon Wheaton October 4, 2010, 5:42 pm

    On a flight to Las Vegas a couple of years ago I got a pinched nerve in my lower back and it brought about a halt to my running and at 60 yrs old thought i was done but I had been reading upon running barefoot and I watched my grand kids run and they ran on the balls of their feet, it all started to come around. I tried running and found that it was easier than I thought and I have no pain in my back. and The nerve in my back is easing away. I tried Nike Free’s didn’t like them finally settled in on Vibrams KSO and have no regrets love them and give me the performance I am looking for. I live in upstate NY and haven’t figured out what to do this winter I love to run outside in the winter.

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