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By Dr. Pinsker
May 04, 2012
Category: Running
Tags: Barefoot  

Filmmaker Niobe Thompson has produced a documentary, called “The Perfect Run.” The documentary focuses on the sport of running, an activity that Thompson has been active in for 20 years. Thompson has said that running helps him relieve stress, allows him time to ponder his thoughts and keeps him physically fit. The documentary will discuss the science of running, focusing on proper techniques, avoiding injuries or damage to the body and how it has become a popular physical activity.

The film also focuses on how the 38-year-old was experiencing severe knee pain - to the point where he debated giving up running altogether. Thompson stated that he used the production of the film as a learning process on how to properly run and change his own techniques.  He was able to use this experience and tools he learned so he could continue to be a runner for the rest of his life.

During his research Thompson discussed the benefits of running barefoot. He discovered that traditional running shoes can have negative effects on the body. Running shoes typically have thick soles with plenty of support. However, Thompson discovered that this design can cause runners to land on their heel with each movement while barefoot runners land on the ball of their feet. Landing on the ball of your feet is the ideal technique for humans to use while running.

Thompson took it upon himself to test the effect of traditional running shoes on his body versus the effects of running barefoot. He found the difference so drastic that he has changed the way he runs. He now attempts to rely more on his forefoot than his heel. Thompson continues to run with shoes most of the time, but has introduced instances of barefoot running into his routine. He uses barefoot running to strengthen the muscles in his feet and ankles. Thompson also believes that runners should not go more than a few kilometers barefoot. Instead runners should take the technique of landing on the forefoot associated with running barefoot. After incorporating this style into his own routine, Thompson found that his knee pain eventually dissolved.

Striking at your forefoot while running has been shown to strengthen the muscles of your feet, particularly in the arch of your foot. It also requires less energy than when you rely on your heel. The process of switching to striking at your forefoot rather than your heel can be very painful. If you decide to make the change, make sure to do it gradually to prevent overuse injuries.

If you experience a running injury or would like to discuss a plan to change to a healthier running technique contact our office at (724) 225-7410 to set up an appointment with Dr. Phil Pinsker.

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