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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Walk EZ: Weighing in on barefoot running and how orthotics can help.

May 30, 2011 08:27PM ● By Kathy Carandang

The foot is very smart and can adapt to all sorts of terrain, providing the foot is a healthy one. Exercise is very important and barefoot running will exercise the foot in a way running with shoes cannot. But, there are some things to consider when beginning a barefoot running program.

First, know that when we run, the impact on each foot is about eight to 10 times our body weight repeated over and over. Are your feet healthy? Do you have any bio-mechanical imbalances? Were you born with any defects? Do you suffer any chronic diseases? Take into consideration the running surface—barefoot running should be done on a soft, natural turf void of any rocks or debris that may cause injury.

Minimalist shoes fit more like a glove for feet. They are very flexible and feature a rubberized coating for a sole. They're great for protection from possible injury, such as running on uneven terrain. If the foot is less than bio-mechanical efficient (which should be evaluated by a certified professional), then a proper custom orthotic device should be considered.

The problem with footwear today is too much engineering and not enough education on why and when a certain type of shoe is needed. A neutral shoe and a custom bio-mechanically designed orthotic device to promote proper function of the feet is recommended. This means the orthotic will promote healthy movement and not lock it up. The more neutral the shoe the better a custom device will work because the shoe is not fighting with the built-in support. The shoe, the support, and the foot must all play the same game to be efficient, comfortable, and promote better health.

Kathy Carandang is a Certified Pedorthist. For more information, call 888-392-5539 or visit


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