2

votes

What to do about barefooting pain issues?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 16, 2010 at 11:24 PM

I've been running/exercising barefoot/in Vibrams for about six months now, usually on dirt or grass. Mostly it's been fine.

But recently I did some stuff on concrete and owwwww. My feet have been hurting pretty much continuously since. Is there anything I should do to make this go away? Perhaps I shouldn't train on concrete?

The pain is mainly while walking or after standing awhile. It seems to be on the outer edge of both feet. I'm taking extra mg in case it's cramps.

922038b6c0ca6a051cc4858218931456

(392)

on January 11, 2011
at 04:33 PM

I second this book by Sandler. Great tips, especially if you want to switch from minimal to barefoot. Personally I don't feel a difference in impact/soreness between trails on concrete in my VFFs. Yoga Toes also make my feet feel great when I actually remember I have them and use them.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 11, 2011
at 12:50 PM

With "normal" shoes everything is hard on the joints/knees because we aren't meant to land on our heels...

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 17, 2010
at 03:59 AM

I had plantar fasciitis a couple years ago. Is the pain worse in the morning?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on October 17, 2010
at 03:10 AM

If you can get a gait analysis done, that could pinpoint why the outer edges of your feet are being victimized. As you may know, soft tissue injuries can haunt you for life. Be careful! The first rule of paleo is to look out for your health.

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 17, 2010
at 02:52 AM

I can't tolerate standing on hard surfaces like concrete, with shoes or without. My feet have always been sensitive, so they alert me very quickly that the hard surface is putting unnatural pressures on my poor tootsies.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 17, 2010
at 02:19 AM

I don't get to rest my feet much since I live in NYC...

14d2a231fb261051a036a6ab6ca7bebd

(616)

on October 17, 2010
at 02:19 AM

Ah, didn't realize you were THAT Melissa :) - serves me right for not checking the name more carefully. Sorry I missed you in NYC. Arch pain... hmm... you're letting your heels come down, right? Otherwise, I'm not sure, but I suspect Eva has the right of it. Take a break, and have the bottoms of your feet make friends with a lacrosse ball :)

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 17, 2010
at 02:10 AM

If pain does not abate with decent rest, might also want to have doc check for stress fracture or some such.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 17, 2010
at 02:09 AM

Maybe also a case of too much too soon?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 17, 2010
at 01:36 AM

The pain is in my arch or something...it's not fun. I have trained under Erwan Le Corre in terms of form. And unfortunately that event with them was where the pain started. Lieberman didn't seem bothered....he did 10 times the distance I did!

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10 Answers

6
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 16, 2010
at 11:31 PM

I think you already answered your own question. If it hurts, quit it. Concrete is not natural. Many runners with knee problems learn they need to stay off concrete. Run on natural dirt or tracks instead. Even with normal shoes, concrete is hard on the knees and joints and is not recommended. You should probably also take a break until your feet recover.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 11, 2011
at 12:50 PM

With "normal" shoes everything is hard on the joints/knees because we aren't meant to land on our heels...

4
7cd98e6778c984411cafb941fc429c13

(304)

on October 17, 2010
at 03:44 PM

This could be a case of too much too soon in terms of barefoot running. Your arches might just not have been ready for it and now your plantar fascia is inflamed. Rest and ice are probably the first steps.

There are also some exercises that you can do to strengthen your arches that don't involve running. Search around for some foot strengthening exercises. Even balancing on one foot seemed to help me in this regard.

Rolling stretches also helped me. http://walking.about.com/cs/heelpain/ht/pfrolling.htm gives the basic idea. I used a golf ball.

1
14d2a231fb261051a036a6ab6ca7bebd

on October 17, 2010
at 01:14 AM

Absolutely take a break until your feet feel better. What kind of pain is it? Good ol' "top of the foot" pain? More in the Achilles tendon? Something else?

I was recently in New York with Barefoot Ted, Jason Robillard, Erwan Le Corre, Dan Lieberman and a bunch of the other "big names" of barefoot running. They all agreed that the "hardness" of the terrain shouldn't really matter.

You've probably seen this video. The part about the impact transient is key. With proper barefoot form, there is no impact transient, therefore the "hardness" of the terrain shouldn't be so important.

If I had to make some blind recommendations, they would be these:

1) Relax your feet and ankles. You want to make sure they're translating most of the impact into rotational energy. 2) Smaller quicker steps. This'll keep you from reaching out in front of your center of gravity. 3) Focus on picking your feet up rather than "pushing off" with your feet.

Ultimately, listen to your body and do what it says. Hope that helps!

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 17, 2010
at 02:09 AM

Maybe also a case of too much too soon?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 17, 2010
at 01:36 AM

The pain is in my arch or something...it's not fun. I have trained under Erwan Le Corre in terms of form. And unfortunately that event with them was where the pain started. Lieberman didn't seem bothered....he did 10 times the distance I did!

14d2a231fb261051a036a6ab6ca7bebd

(616)

on October 17, 2010
at 02:19 AM

Ah, didn't realize you were THAT Melissa :) - serves me right for not checking the name more carefully. Sorry I missed you in NYC. Arch pain... hmm... you're letting your heels come down, right? Otherwise, I'm not sure, but I suspect Eva has the right of it. Take a break, and have the bottoms of your feet make friends with a lacrosse ball :)

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 17, 2010
at 03:59 AM

I had plantar fasciitis a couple years ago. Is the pain worse in the morning?

0
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on January 11, 2011
at 12:49 PM

The absolute best simple advice I've heard to date for barefooting, is to move even when running such that you attempt to be as quiet as possible.

Avoid slapping your feet or stomping your heel, form will come naturally. Practice the skill on soft grass, but once form is good, concrete is fine.

0
D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on January 11, 2011
at 04:27 AM

With concrete the game is about shock absorption. I started bending my knees an absolutely ridiculous exaggerated amount. It looked and felt ridiculous. But man, it helped adjust my strike and helped run ridiculously quiet. Ken Bob would probably just say relax, relax, relax. Make sure that heels coming down, Melissa. All the dreaming about forefoot striking makes people wish they could cut of their heels. If the heel doesn't strike the arch doesn't relax until the foot is raised. It’s not a natural motion. I temporarily destroyed my arches by not letting the hell drop enough.

Michael Sangler's book Barefoot Running has a ton of good advice and some really tedious but probably helpful exercises for strengthening arches. I haven't needed them. Maybe some people do. The pain would typically mean some sort of trouble with form. You're doing something that doesn't work for you. Maybe you pushed yourself too far. Concrete is a different ball game. Take it embarrassingly slow. Easy does it. Bring your shoes with you and the second time you think "This might be hurting" put themon. Engages the abs. Don't arch your back. Keep an even sight line. And relax, relax, relax. If you aren't having fun stop. Concrete isn't way too different than natural hard surfaces that people would traditionally run on. It's different than grass and soft dirt. Not too different than well compacted dirt trails. Run lite, run quiet, give enought time for recovery, listen to your feet.

922038b6c0ca6a051cc4858218931456

(392)

on January 11, 2011
at 04:33 PM

I second this book by Sandler. Great tips, especially if you want to switch from minimal to barefoot. Personally I don't feel a difference in impact/soreness between trails on concrete in my VFFs. Yoga Toes also make my feet feel great when I actually remember I have them and use them.

0
4c1b7bba23d7001b5b921ea7727fd950

on January 11, 2011
at 03:48 AM

I had the same problem. I was running in five fingers all last summer. I started out slow, alternating between five fingers, completely barefoot, and shoes. After about a month I felt so great that I abandoned my shoes and alternated between five fingers and running barefoot. That's when I started to get pain along the outer edge of the bottoms of my feet.. not where the plantar fascia are, but on the other side. It was worse in the morning. I switched back to shoes and after about a month the pain went away. My five fingers were a little too snug, which might have contributed to the problem.. but then it could have just been tendonitis from "too much too soon!" Hope your feet get better!

0
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on October 17, 2010
at 01:20 PM

When I started barefooting, I was recovering from a back injury, and therefore didn't actually start running for several months. I walked, and I walked, and I walked, and I think that all that walking really helped my feet firm up for the barefoot running.

0
Efb905b1d4d10c18c4a1ae7912baeb45

(190)

on October 17, 2010
at 04:00 AM

I am going to speculate that it is not the surface but a form issue. I have been running on asphalt fully barefoot since snowmelt last spring (and in neoprene aqua shoes with no padding for 6 months prior) and feel that the beauty of barefoot form is that the energy is fully absorbed by arches, achilles, bent knees, etc. so the hardness of the surface doesn't really matter. When I can find concrete to run on, it feels like creamy butter (compared to asphalt and rougher surfaces).

0
Dd2944d3038715aa784eadf5ef5fb575

(275)

on October 17, 2010
at 01:01 AM

Yah, Concrete is TOUGH! Even when we jog through the neighborhood, we try to stay on the grassy edges (sorry, neighbors!!). Concrete is not natural. Short treks of it is tolerable, but anything more than a 1/2 mile, my knees start to remind me of why I started running barefoot ;) Natural running needs nature's paths...

0
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 16, 2010
at 11:55 PM

I'm not a runner but I have been wearing VFFs on weekends and Vivo Barefoot Aquas at work for months, now.

In my big ol' clunky shoes I just walked. If I wanted to speed up I just took bigger steps at pretty much the same pace. Change surface - same thing.

When I'm barefoot or in these minimal shoes I've noticed that for almost every change in speed or change in walking surface I have to change how I walk because I can't just throw my feet out in front of me. When I do my heels just hammer the ground and it hurts. I swear it's just like learning to walk all over again. I (can only) imagine that the same is true for running.

One of the biggest (though still subtle) changes I've made is that when I put my front foot out I let my knee bend bringing my foot back a bit before it hits the ground. That makes it more of a mid-foot strike and my flexed knee allows my muscles to absorb the impact rather than my ankle, knee and hip joints. I think I saw that on a Terra Plana video that we've all probably seen.

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