Foot Arthritis: Barefoot a Help or Hindrance?
Barefoot has turned the research of foot health on its head in recent years. “How could less cushion protect my feet”? “Why do my shoes make my feet hurt?” It has never made sense why more cushion has caused more pain than good, but wherever media turns its head, so does the consumer, and thus eventually the producer of the goods realizing they are missing out on a bubble of consumerism.
This has been evident in the events occurring the past two years that FiveFingers have risen to at least the peripheral vision of the common public. Meanwhile, running and outdoors enthusiasts have been immersed in a new phenomenon under the radar of shoe technology, and gladly so.
In the past two years reports have come out about the cushioned wedges called cross trainers (and any other type of “trainer” or “tennis” shoes) actually exacerbate and cause hip, knee, and back pain and woes, as well as the idea that maybe this soft cushy stuff could be a bad idea. Our human foot and much of our human livelihoods in many aspects, have been softened to the point where mental muscle or physical muscle is too much of a burden to even begin to try. Returning to a more connected way of life has begun to come back and is coming back vividly, I am glad to say.
But I have strayed far from my point.
The point is, while FiverFingers are at the front of the barefoot movement and others follow in their wake with whatever their designs happen to do to promote or distort the barefoot ideal, we have only begun to learn about and understand the structure of our feet.
I recently heard from a co-worker whom I was explaining FiveFingers to that our boss actually had arthritis of her feet due to running around and being barefoot so much in her youth. This fact not only floored me as it contradicts everything the barefoot movement teaches about how your feet will make us into superior striking bipeds with muscled feet, but it also unsettled me. While man has gone barefoot and has been designed to, this is a new phenomenon that does not have many years backing it in the current wave of shoe statistics. “Barefoot shoes” and “Minimalist shoes” are completely new terms that are now gaining clout.
There are barefoot runners on blogs that have been running unshod for decades and they are stronger than many 30 year olds for it. But my own family history of Rheumatoid Arthritis is a bit disconcerting, making me wonder if barefoot running would ever exacerbate future problems or better yet, prevent them.
Doing light reading on Foot Arthritis (since that’s what I do in my spare time) the main types that surface are Osteoarthritis (wearing away of cartilage in joints in the foot causing swelling and pain during movement), Gout (excessive uric acid crystals form around the joint of the big toe), and Rheumatoid Arthritis (which has no known cause but can cause bunions, hammer toes, claw toes and can affect the whole body).
My grandmother has severe RA and the results aren’t pretty. This and many other illnesses have spurred me to curb many lifelong bad habits as early as I can, though I am still working on it all at, being only 21. Prevention is the best medicine, though when that isn’t possible, countermeasures must be found.
The listed remedies for foot arthritis on this given source (Foot.com) were: a very open toe compartment for toe mobility, orthodic inserts, and gel inserts to cushion movement at the painful stage of the game. Which comes full circle back to being in closed shoes and cushy soles being the potential problem. Arthritis.com says bone spurs that form around joints can be caused by wearing high heels too much or “running too much”?? And they continue on to say that the pain will change the way you walk.
It is a strange cycle of logic, and I would like other readers to give input if you have it.
This is meant to hopefully flush out some answers for what the future of barefoot running provides, whether it is stronger Alpha Feet, or arthritic claws in my FiveFingers, but either way, it is a serious topic that I would like to hear from the FiveFinger community.
Has anything like this surfaced in the barefoot runners here? Any family members who are running and doing well or not-so well? Leave some insight if possible.