REVIEWS OF DR. SCHULER
A new book by author Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen summarizes the foundational concepts of barefoot running. He explains that while people have focused much attention on shoe wear, it is really an issue with form. He also argues that running free of cumbersome shoe wear is essential to human nature (http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/22/2180569/author-mcdougall-challenges-us.html). Citing anthropological evidence for his support of barefoot and minimalist running, he draws extensively from the Tarahumara tribe: they live in the Copper Canyons of Mexico and run great distances without injuries because, he claims, they wear homemade sandals to run in. Since the publication of McDougall’s book, they have figured prominently in conversations about the barefoot movement, which deems the thickly padded shoes detrimental to feet everywhere (http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/22/2180569/author-mcdougall-challenges-us.html#ixzz1KZZd4W00).
As the first annual International Barefoot Runners Day approaches on May 1, 2011, the concept of barefoot running will be getting more attention. There must be something to it since so many people have testified that running barefoot or with lighter shoes—such as the Vibram Five Fingers shoe– has helped them overcome repetitive injuries or generalized pain from their athletic pursuits. Dr. Burton S. Schuler, author of Why You Really Hurt: It All Starts in the Foot, has practice podiatry in Panama City, Florida for over three decades and has treated world class runners and athletes. Schuler has written on the importance of customizing your footwear and exercise routines to fit your own unique situation (http://whyyoureallyhurt.com/mortons-toe/jogging-and-running/). This can include having your feet checked to see if you suffer from a short first metatarsal bone. If you do, this condition is known as “Morton’s Toe” and can greatly impact your running form. Schuler prescribes a toe pad to patients who need something to help correct the foot’s natural alignment when it hits the ground (http://whyyoureallyhurt.com/home/#tp).
While McDougall supports the idea of moving away from thickly padded running shoes, he also acknowledges that different shoes work for different people, or the same runner may want to consider where they are running, their own form, etc. Schuler’s advice that a short first metatarsal bone can impact running form, when combined with the latest attention paid to barefoot and minimal shoe wear, gives runners and other athletes opportunities to expand their own comfort zones, eliminate pain, and enhance their enjoyment of their sport. Whether you believe, as McDougall does, that running is essential to human nature, and that we were all “born to run”, today runners have more research and information at their fingertips than ever before—including McDougall’s views.