Test #1 What a year of barefoot walking did with my feet

18 sep

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A year ago podologist Vroenhoven told me I walk too much on the outer sides of my feet. And that if I kept walking barefoot, I might start feeling that in my forefoot, achilles heel, hips, or back. I was a little worried hearing this back then. What happened in the year that followed?

barefoot run

I walked barefoot in the city for an average of 6 km a day. I ran twice a week for half an hour. And..I didn’t have any pain or injuries! Not in the places the podologist mentioned, nor anywhere else. Usually my knees start hurting from running, but this didn’t happen with barefoot running. I’m happy with that!

What the professional says
I wasn’t sure what a more official test of my feet and my posture would say. Yesterday I went to another podologist, Yvonne Bontekoning, as she has a lot more ways to measure the feet than my earlier podologist did.

First interesting thing she mentioned:

‘All foot problems that sport professionals come to me with, are due to wearing shoes and to sitting too much.’

I got curious what would be the result of walking barefoot for me! Yvonne tested 3 things:

1. Foot settlement

If you are used to walking barefoot or in minimal shoes, you will naturally land on your midfoot instead of the heel. This is much better for your knees and hip joints. If you walk shodded most of the day, the heels of the shoe will force you to land on your heels. You will not adapt foot settlement and land on the heel even when walking barefoot. In these graphics you can see that the pink and blue lines, showing the pressure on the heel, are a lot less high in my case compared to someon walking barefoot while not being used to do that.

My foot impact

My foot impact, the pink and blue lines on the left indicating my heelstrike impact are quite low

 

 

professional runners foot impact

shod runners foot impact, the pink en blue lines on the left indicating the impact of the heelstrike are quite high

 

2. Flexibility of the foot

Yvonne could palpate my footsoles rather deep and firm, in ways that she said are usually very painful for people. My feet are stronger and more flexible and thus better able to do their work. Also, usually peoples toes are standing a bit upwards because of the shape of shoes, whereas mine were nice and flat and thus functioning better. She would have expected for my foot to be even more supple actually.


3. Landing and posture while running

foto 3

Left: me
Right: shod runner

If you compare my running technique to that of the shod runner, two differences are noteworthy.  First of all you can see that I land more on my forefoot, which helps to give a much softer landing. Second, Yvonne pointed to the fact that my upper body is working a lot more.

 

If you run in shoes, hitting the ground is compensated by the cushion of the shoe, which makes your body react as though there isn’t a big shock. As a result the body doesn’t use it natural shock absorbers. This means that for example your upper body is not forced to tighten.

I could see this in the video of the shod runner: her upper body was shaking a bit. You could tell that the muscles in my upper body were working, it was more straightened. If your whole body helps catching the shocks, injuries are less likely to happen.

oscar van der wijk

Yvonne Bontekoning.
Photography: Oscar van der Wijk

Now what will happen?
I was quite surprised that even though I walked in shoes as well for about 20% of the time, still my feet and posture were so well.

Will I now keep walking barefoot after the year? I’ll let you know after the first of October!

If you’re curious about the clinic of sport podologist Yvonne Bontekoning, check her website!

 

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