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As the principal owner of Central Massachusetts Podiatry I wanted to create this blog to help my patients, friends, fellow athletes and fellow physicians become more acquainted with our treatment approach and be able to follow along with my athletic endeavors and views on all things life and health related. I have completed seven Ironman triathlons, numerous marathons including nine Boston Marathons and three 100 mile ultramarathons (Vermont, Leadville and Javelina Jundred, finishing in 19 hours, 38 minutes and 17th overall). Having had the highs of qualifying for both the Boston Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman, to the lows of sustaining a double pelvic stress fracture in 2009, there is much perspective I can offer, both personally and professionally.

Thoughts on Minimalist Running

I attended a great conference put on by Saucony, “Step into Minimalism”. I listened to some fabulous speakers, and as always, tried to learn a few things.  One of the questions asked of the panel of experts, Michael Sandler (barefoot runner and author), Jack Daniels, PhD (Olympian, exercise physiologist, coach extraordinaire) and Marybeth Crane, DPM (podiatrist, runner) was if they thought minimalist running was a fad or a trend.  Ironically, I answered this same question just last week in an interview.  The consensus is that this is certainly a trend, which is the opinion I share as well.  The ground swell is too large right now and the buying trends of the running public are guiding the way.  However, the ultimate question is if this trend is a good thing?  My answer is without a doubt, YES!

Why so emphatic?  It gets people at least thinking again about our basic design, the human form and human motion.  Dr. Daniels said it so eloquently at the conference (paraphrased here): “Parents spend the early years of their child’s life asking them to run around, play, be happy, and take their shoes off.  Once they get to school, we then tell them to put their shoes on, sit down, shut up and listen!”  That thinking goes hand in hand with my guiding principle in that children have all the answers, and adults end up messing them up.  Life is about using our bodies and our minds in the ways they were intended, before being changed and altered by shoes, chairs, sitting and especially the stressful poison of adult worries that seep into our heads.

As a foot doctor, and from what I see in the medical profession, we have learned to deal with injury and pain in a way that treats the symptoms and not the root cause of how the injury or pain developed.  I am not making the leap that minimalist shoes will correct the root cause of foot pain or bodily injury.  I am however, making the leap that people are now interested in finding out why they hurt more than just finding out how not to hurt.  That is a major step forward.  Our society has lived under the mantra of “take two and call me in the morning” for far too long.  We’ve become lazy and unconcerned about the “why we hurt”; as long as we think someone can fix it.  More and more people are trying to get back to the basics of our human instincts, and running has been one of the best way for most people.  It goes beyond that though; we are not just content with running.  We, as humans, have a pressing need to experience running as it was intended to be: free and connected with the past.  And in the past we wore no shoes.  That is why I believe the minimalist movement is a good one, and here to stay.

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