27-Year-Old First-Year Surgical Resident Comes To The Physician To Request Running the Distance

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Running the Distance

After a good workout, I sat in the sauna with my head bowed and sweating on Thanksgiving Eve. My downcast eyes couldn’t help but notice and follow the weirdest shoe I’ve ever seen in the gym. They wander into the sauna like aliens into a spaceship.

At first, I thought sweat was covering my vision. As I wiped the dripping water off my tired eyeballs, I realized I wasn’t seeing anything. These toes are made of a bright royal blue, ribbed rubber-like material.

Immediately I was reminded of a pair of socks that fit all five toes that I had seen in stores around the holidays in bright Christmas colors of red, green and white. I’ve never tried those socks because I think it takes forever for my fat toes to get in. Ideally, I like to wear socks when my feet are cold, like a firefighter reaching for gear in a four alarm fire. No time for messing around. I want my gloves and socks to be free of complications.

But these are not socks. In front of me are half socks, half water shoes.

When I looked up, sitting next to me was a woman listening to music on her iPod. She probably doesn’t want to be bothered. But my curiosity got the better of me. So, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked about her strange pair of shoes. What are they? She smiled and said these were her new running shoes.

running shoes? Did I hear you right? Is my ear swimming in water? Apparently not, as she went on to say that she absolutely loves them because they make her run faster and they’re healthier for her feet.

healthier? As someone who specializes in health, my interest is even stronger now. I asked more questions. Her name is Vena Cook-Clark, she is 27 years old, and she has been running as a hobby for 6 years.

Initially, the unusual look and lightness of the shoes caught her attention. She read that running barefoot was better for her form, and that was reason enough for her to put down the $100.00 asking price to give it a try.

When she brought them home, her husband joked that they looked like she had “alien toes,” but now, she exclaims, he wants a pair too. I asked if they were difficult to put on. She said it was much easier after the first few times and the trouble was worth it. She added, “Running with them was awkward at first, but after about 2 weeks I got used to them and now want another pair for hiking.”

She brags about how easy it is to wash them with the rest of her running or workout clothes. She told me they were made by a company called Vibram, and told me I could find them on the internet by googling “Vibram five fingers”.

When I got home that night, I did just that. I immediately found the so-called “barefoot exercise”. Purists prefer the term “minimalist movement” because you’re not really barefoot when wearing them. First, I wonder if there are actually health benefits to wearing them.

As it turns out, a 2010 study from India showed that kids who wore shoes before age 6 were more likely to develop flat feet than kids who ran around barefoot. They also have better longitudinal bows. According to statistics, 8.2% of children who regularly wear shoes have flat feet, compared with 2.8% of barefoot children. The study was published in The Times of India.

I also learned that I’m not the first to discover this research. In 2009, Christopher McDougall wrote the New York Times bestseller, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. It provides insight into the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s Copper Canyon. They ran hundreds of miles barefoot over rough terrain, and they ran into their 70s without any sign of injury. Die-hard runners took notice and made changes.

I wonder what doctors think of them.

Last year, scientists at Harvard University demonstrated that people who go barefoot or in minimalist shoes — as people have done for millions of years — typically land on their feet in a way that avoids shock. Less impact means less stress and less foot injury.

PBS has a video that visually shows what your feet look like when you’re running in regular sneakers versus running barefoot or wearing minimalist sneakers. It’s fun to notice how your feet hit the ground differently. Minimalist shoes place the ball of your foot on the ground instead of your heel.

Most doctors claim they’re really better for your feet and “can” prevent injuries. There is a word “may” instead of can that doctors say when they want to cover themselves. Noncommittal, but they say anyone with plantar fasciitis or any type of running foot injury could potentially benefit from it.

Here’s what doctors recommend if you’re switching from regular running sneakers to minimalist ones. Start slowly. They recommend using them on trails and grass before hitting concrete or sidewalk.

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of barefoot running, experts say you need to prep your feet before making the switch. You can do this:

1. Fan the toes and hold for 10 seconds, 10 times per foot every day.

2. Bend your feet for 5 seconds, then release.

3. Use your feet to trace the letters of the alphabet in mid-air each day.

4. stand on tiptoe,

5. Walk as you go.

The above might seem like a lot of fancy footwork, but wearers like the Vena Cook-Clark rave about them and won’t be going back to regular running shoes anytime soon. Clark said: “I looked at my old running shoes and couldn’t believe I used to carry those heavy things in my gym bag. I love these, I can run faster now and my feet feel better after the run much better.”

They were founded by Dan Lieberman and Peter Von Conta. Fitness experts have since made the switch, and word of mouth about them is spreading rapidly, as the shoes cause curious people, like myself, to ask about them.

Stephen Meade, founder of BigBamboo, LLC, said he saw people in suits at meetings. He said you can’t help but pay attention and ask them. He did and said the person who wore them was a marathon runner and swore by them. Meade can’t wait to get a pair for himself.

Although, Brian Cuban is an avid runner, he has run 8 marathons, the best time is 3:27 in the Marine Corps. Marathon said he would never use them.

In addition to running marathons, Cuban is a lawyer, author, blogger and speaker, and believes they will always remain a niche event for long-distance runners. He doesn’t think they ever became mainstream.

“I have too many problems with my existing feet and knees to make them workable. I need to reduce my hitting power, not increase it,” Cuban said.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Andrew Baldwin, MD, also an avid marathon runner, agrees.

Baldwin isn’t a big fan of minimalist shoes. “They’re right in theory, but in our overweight society, the bone structure is used to lifting heavy objects, which can be dangerous and lead to injury,” he said.

Andy Baldwin, MD, knows a thing or two about health and fitness, both professionally and personally. He started running at a young age and has completed 35 marathons and 8 Ironman races.

Baldwin, a triathlete, humanitarian, U.S. Navy diver and media personality, is currently a family medicine resident at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital in Southern California. He also served as a spokesperson and advocate for Navy medicine with the Naval Medical-Surgery Bureau in Washington, DC.

While in the District of Columbia, he assisted the U.S. Surgeon General with a program called Healthy Youth for Healthy Futures and is currently an advocate for the Let’s Move campaign led by First Lady Michelle Obama. Both programs target overweight and obesity in children.

Incidentally, he’s also the star of ABC’s hit show “The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman.”

However, despite the lack of opinion, sales are on the rise.

Since its launch in 2006, sales of Vibram five-finger shoes have tripled every year. And sales continue to grow. So these rubber-soled, light-as-air running shoes may not just be a blip in the fitness industry.

By far the biggest complaint from consumers is that the seams tear after 90 days. So, you guessed it, they have a 90-day warranty. However, the nice thing about this is that if this happens, the manufacturer, Vibram, will immediately replace them for free. The customer service has been excellent so far and has been around since 2006. The second complaint is blisters. But traditional running shoes can also leave you with blisters.

Webbed running shoes may look clumsy and weird, but they are as comfortable as bare feet, only your feet are completely protected from sharp objects and rocks. They also keep your feet warm. They can be a benefit if you’re renovating your home and have nails in the floor, or they can be a smart alternative to wearing socks around the house if you have young kids who throw all kinds of stuff around.

I also met Vena Cook-Clark again at the gym and she ran up to me wearing her Vibrams and told me she was happy to announce that she had bought a second pair for hiking and her husband is now sporting a pair, love them .

Skeptics may not want to use them for running, but for comfort and grip while lifting weights, yoga, cycling, or general walking.

I was walking through a mall recently and couldn’t help but spot them in all the shoe stores. They come in a variety of attractive, vibrant colors for both men and women. You’ll be thrilled to feel how light and flexible they are when you lift them up, and people are raving about them in the store.

Runners wore them to the 5K at the Oshkosh Half Marathon last month. Walk into a sneaker store and you’re bound to see them on the shelves. Top brands are starting to join the fray. Nike and New Balance just launched “minimalist sneakers” this week.

Current Top 5 Brands for “Minimalist Sneakers” at approx. 100 dollars. Yes:

1. Sports shoes

2. Nike

3. New Balance

4. Reebok

5. Brooks

As for me, I still want gloves, socks, and sneakers without complications. But I’m willing to give it a try, if only for the light weight of carrying them around. I also think they’re great for a walk on the beach. I like the feeling of having my toes in the sand, but there’s always the possibility of stepping on something sharp. I love walking/running by the sea and these seem like a decent alternative to clunky traditional shoes. I also like the webless toe version, which is even lighter than the Vibrams. They fit easier in a beach bag than traditional running shoes. I recently tried the Stand-Up Paddle boarding and I can see using them too.

Vibrams weigh 5.7 oz. The Mizuno Universe 3 ($119.99) weighs 3.6 ounces and has a closed toe like you’d find on traditional sneakers, so there’s no deformed toes.

As summer approaches, you’re likely to see more and more minimalist running shoes and think them through like I did. If they’re durable and people love them, I’m sure word of mouth will make these minimalist shoes go as far as the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

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