Go Barefoot to Prevent Sensory Neuropathy in Feet


One reason a runner should start taking
barefoot running more serious is because running barefoot may reverse and prevent
a nerve condition called sensory motor neuropathy in the feet or plantar
sensory motor neuropathy –plantar meaning the sole of the foot. Sensory motor
neuropathy in the feet is a condition that involves a loss of function in
motor and sensory nerves in the feet and that may result in decreased movement
efficiency and diminished sensations that may have tremendous injury
implications for runners whereby strong evidence has emerged supporting the
accelerated idea that cushioned, stiff traditional running shoes may be in
large part to blame for the condition and may be one of the dominant reasons
injury rates are very high in joggers who wear these types of running shoes
from a very early age. Why would such a nerve condition (sensory motor neuropathy
of the feet) potentially derived from routine use or long-term use of cushioned,
traditional running shoes? The condition may arise on the basis that you don’t
get that high sensory thrust that you get when you are barefoot and it’s this
high sensory thrust through barefoot running that is a lifeline for the
sensory motor and pressure sensing nerves that line the bottom of the
barefoot to remain highly functional and viable long term. When you are barefoot
the continuous sensory potency and rich tactile inputs stimulating the bottom of
the bare foot really seem to work best for keeping the
foot nerves healthy, viable, fastly communicating, the plantar nerves are
better able to function and fire more optimally helping you react better
reflexively with greater mechanical resilience during running and walking
especially while over uneven terrain, so going barefoot more regularly is not
only going to help the foot nerves remain highly functional, bolstering
their responsiveness and health, but will help your running form be more reflexive, more reactive, more responsive, more balanced overall with greater movement
efficiency during running all-in-all barefooting helps keep
plantar sensory motor neuropathy at bay because all the right sensory streams
seem to be stimulated within the plantar nerves or the nerves on the bottom of
the bare foot which in turn these nerves are better able to switch on a range of
responsive motor nerves and reflexes in the ankle, knee and hip joint essential
to helping improve the levers of better balanced control and movement
coordination. Ultimately, we may need the high degree of foot nerve or plantar
nerve activation spurred on by barefooting to not only prevent and
treat foot sensory motor neuropathy but to assist in safer footstep behaviors
since its well-known that barefooting enhances leg responsiveness and elevates
your foot step perceptual awareness which can lead to increase impact
protection. Barefooting also keeps the feet fully functional at a higher level
than in traditional cushioned, inflexible stiff running shoes which has strong
implications for affecting plantar nerve function. These are really the most
therapeutically influential aspects of barefooting and how it may be a more
credible approach in preventing plantar sensory motor neuropathy. In contrast
sensory motor neuropathy of the feet may be one of the reasons many runners get
injured and continue to injure and these shoes may further add to the challenge
of sustained balance stability during running especially during trail running
because in thick cushion traditional running shoes you get a very narrow set
of sensory inputs on the plantar nerves you get a very limited plantar sensory
scope of the ground which may really create mechanical problems where there
doesn’t really need to be any. In thick cushion running shoes especially if worn
during critical stages of development the plantar nerves are offline, less
activated, which is a risk factor for plantar sensory motor neuropathy. In
these shoes the plantar nerves are sensorally disengaged in that they fail to
capture the full sensory spectrum that goes
into keeping foot nerves healthy and active but also another consequence of
this is that it may diminish the mechanical gears that go into impact
reduction, movement efficiency and good running economy. From the consequence of poor ground feel at the feet you may run unbalanced which may trigger a distable
cascading effect that may lead to ankle injury and runners knee to say the least.
Therefore, it may be hard to develop safe efficient biomechanics if a new runner
learns how to run properly, which in my view involves a forefoot strike landing
pattern, when learning to run in thick cushioned running shoes, when rather,
barefoot running training leading up to running in shoes may be a more favorable
destination with respects to learning the proper forefoot strike running style
and staving off plantar sensory motor neuropathy. Ample research has also
proven that not only does foot weakness linger if the feet are always boxed in a
stiff cushion running shoe, but the feet as well as the neurosensory motor
system may have a less functional role at helping to control impact moderating
behavior which is the body’s natural ability to reflexively avoid high-impact
landings. What’s so interesting is that this primitive innate form of movement
protection seems to be optimized when you are barefoot, but impact moderating
behavior appears to be diminished in traditional running shoes, but when you
are barefoot the motor in sensory plantar nerves that help direct motion
and reflexes are well able to communicate more clearly, strongly and
faster with the motor cortex in the brain, setting a strategy for safer
movement patterns via heightened impact moderating behavior which essentially
helps avoid painful high-impact footfalls in the absence of underfoot
protection, thus increased barefoot running experience may help create
faster, more efficient neural mechanisms for repeating and solidifying this
communication feedback loop between the feet and the brain that sets the pace for
safer effective motor commands, aiding in a natural way
of reducing impact which may have a strong hand in preventing plantar
sensory motor neuropathy as compared with running in traditional running
shoes. Increased barefoot running experience creates exceptional, effective
motor learning with respects to enhanced impact-moderating behavior which may
help bring about a softer, lighter more responsive forefoot strike during
barefoot running which may carry over, may become more automatic and retained
for when you run in running shoes, but just make sure that your footwear is
minimalistic and not traditional, but the point is when you have plantar sensory
motor neuropathy which may be spurred on by running in thick cushion running
shoes long-term, impact-moderating behavior may become compromised and less functional, but may be improved during barefoot running. That’s really the
invaluable therapeutic asset of barefooting. It’s the heightened plantar nerve firing during barefoot running and barefooting in general that
enhances spatial perception and produces credible changes in plantar nerve health
or foot nerve health which is going to direct more responsive impact-moderating
behaviors at a much higher level, helping lighten landing loads, but is really a
factual basis for how the potent sensory environment of barefooting can counter
the development and progression of plantar sensory motor neuropathy. For a
sidenote, this may also provide strong evidence that impact-moderating behavior
and forefoot striking during running especially during barefoot running might
be innate, since it’s well-known that humans evolved as barefoot runners. This
may also suggests why long-term dependency on cushion traditional
running shoes may drag down your injury prevention efforts because such footwear
may interfere with the impact-moderating behavior system and as a result you may
end up defaulting to a hard-hitting forceful heel strike landing pattern
during running and it’s incredibly well-known that heel strike running may
spread more impact than forefoot strike running. In this way, thick cushioned
running shoes may cause a runner to not only strike the ground harder on the
heels which may place mechanical burdens on the shins and on the knee joint but
to do so with more impact generation because the plantar nerves aren’t fully
conveying spatial pressure and other forms of sensory information to the
brain to the same degree that they are when you run barefoot. This reckless form
of running spurred on by thick cushion running shoes could reflect sensory
motor neuropathy because these shoes may cause a runner to deviate far away from
our innate style of running which there is a good chance that humans may be more
hardwired for forefoot strike running not so much heel strike running. To
really drive the message home, when you run barefoot the brain is provided
with more sensory information which in turn may prompt quicker withdraw
reflexes in the leg and in the feet helping to prevent forceful painful
footballs and may help encourage more easily a
forefoot strike over a heel strike landing pattern. You then get less sudden
loading on the body. I think because of this many experts are beginning to
settle on the fact that the brain has difficulties in conceiving how the foot
interacts with the ground during running in traditional running shoes on account
of shoe stiffness, under-foot padding thickness, arch support, motion control
features, thick under-heel padding in most traditional running shoes may misdirect,
mis-guided the foot at touchdown during running resulting in high-impact
footsteps. This could represent a form of plantar sensory motor neuropathy because
these shoes may cause us to run with a running style that is a stark deviation
from how we are supposed to run, how we evolved to run, which again may be with
a forefoot strike landing pattern. In this light, traditional running shoes
are not really a natural environment for foot strength and biomechanical
efficiency to thrive in a sustained capacity. These shoes don’t always
promote the natural order of biomechanics because again the plantar
nerves are offline in a sense and plantar sensory motor neuropathy may
arise over time which seems evident because impact-moderating behavior which
is under neurosensory motor control is compromised or diminished in traditional
running shoes, but this is not the case when we run barefoot as barefoot running
always involves improved motor coordination, including an easier to
navigate forefoot strike landing pattern that is of low impact which is an
indicator of a more functional impact moderating behavioral system which also
indicates the plantar nerves are where they need to be in terms of their
natural activity and the chances of getting bumped with plantar sensory
motor neuropathy may be next to none when you ramp up your barefoot activity
and decrease your reliance on traditional running shoes. Barefoot
running seems to be the best facilitator in developing strong plantar sensory
nerve fibers thereby potentially preventing plantar sensory motor
neuropathy to which plays a heavy role in helping align the natural order of
biomechanics and there’s mountains of evidence showing that barefoot running
can be a real target intervention that may have the best influence in helping
prevent plantar sensory motor neuropathy and helping retool your biomechanics in
a way that shapes low-impact footsteps and better injury prevention outcomes.
This is why it’s easy to make the case that you can pinpoint the involvement of
traditional running shoes in potentially contributing to plant our sensory motor
neuropathy by virtue of diminished impact moderating behavior resulting in
a greater spread of impact forces. Many studies bolster the case that impact may
become increasingly pronounced during running when a traditional thick cushion
running shoe is worn because these shoes undercut our impact moderating behavior
system as these shoes diminish very key and critical cutaneous and vibratory
plantar cues that have a strong involvement in mediating the kind of
mechanical grooming that results in low-impact shock and keeps the impact
moderating behavior more engaged on all levels. The long-term implications of the
plantar sensory blockage from continued use of thick underfoot
materials may manifest as sensory deficits which may result in poorly
integrated sensory information that could generate the wrong kind of
movements that may disadvantage a runners injury prevention objectives.
This is again a prime example of plantar sensory motor neuropathy symptoms which
fundamentally entails these sensory and motor nerves firing at a much lower
functional capacity and when these nerves are offline, like they typically
are in traditional running shoes, it can really mess with your mechanics because
there could be diminished or faulty sensory communication between plantar
nerves and nerves in the ankle, knee and hip joint which typically is accompanied
by making a bad mechanical situation even worse especially when running over
uneven terrain, since there may be a slowed release of withdraw reflexes of
the leg which may ramp up force production. Why would you want a faster
withdraw retraction reaction of the leg during running anyway? It’s important to
note that a faster withdrawal of the foot off the ground during running is
key and preventing over-striding and high brake force production. Foot
retraction response seems to be more pronounced during barefoot running
probably because impact moderating behavior is more enhanced, more engaged
whereas running in cushion traditional running shoes often the leg swing
retraction may be slowed down. In getting back to a further defining plantar
sensory motor neuropathy and how cushioned traditional running shoes may
create the climate for the condition to manifest
potentially putting a runner in harm’s way. Plantar sensory motor neuropathy is
also characterized by deficiencies in proprioception. Proprioception means
spatial awareness or movement perception but more specifically proprioception at
the neural level is a sensory nerves ability to detect and process spatial
information, piecing together spatial information based on sensory information
received from environmental inputs at the feet and surprise surprise
proprioception may be threatened by long-term use of cushioned traditional
running shoes because of how these shoes change or diminish firing patterns of
plantar nerves. In the case of plantar sensory motor neuropathy, symptoms
induced by cushion traditional running shoes, there’s a loss of perceived
plantar vibratory cues and cutaneous stimuli which may result in a loss of
joint positional awareness and perception, impaired movement detection
and an overall reduced acuity of movement perception during running which
could very well set the stage for an injury. I came across a 1999 study
published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy which
provided unique insights on how cushioned traditional running shoes may be almost
the universal blame for sensory motor neuropathy in the feet. The researchers
noted that even though thick cushion footwear is commonly prescribed to
unload and protect the foot in individuals with plantar sensory motor
neuropathy the researchers revealed that there does
not appear to be any solid supporting credible evidence that justifyingly
proves thick underfoot cushioning is useful for improving plantar sensory
motor neuropathy symptoms. Now contrary to naive intuition, thick cushion riding
shoes may be actually the origin of plantar sensory motor neuropathy and may
actually be incomplete treatment for the condition because in my view
in order for the feet to function and thrive in a sustained way, in order to be
by mechanically able efficient and safe you need good proprioception which to
reiterate proprioception means directional and spacial awareness of
overall body position and limb movements through space. You need high level
proprioception at the feet which is fundamentally
optimized when you are barefoot to help lead the way in providing lasting
results in improving the overall sensory motor system which in my opinion really
does start at the feet via barefooting as it activates all the wide-ranging
motor nerve populations in the sole of the bare foot which help coordinate
movements of the feet, legs and body posture which again the responsiveness
of these nerves are really ignited when you’re barefoot versus in cushioned
traditional running shoes. For that reason, this is how barefooting may exert
profound influence on reversing shoe- induced sensory-motor neuropathy of the
foot, not only may the solution of treating sensory-motor neuropathy of the
foot lay within barefooting, this is also why barefoot running may be what you
need to help you clean up your running form since proprioception is more
optimized, more functional on account of plantar sensory receptor signaling
and engagement is very strengthened also remember the nerves at the bottom of the
bare foot have strong connections with multiple specialized anatomical pathways in the brain devoted to biomechanics and balance control. Therefore, directly
stimulating the nerves on the bottom of the bare foot via barefooting is really
the sensory resource you may need that may help you intensively reevaluate your
biomechanics and may really be the driving force that enhances movement and
postural coordination in a more unified way, helping you become more fluent in
managing and executing the mechanical outputs that lead up to less impact.
However, if there’s chronic communication impediments along the
proprioception highway between the foot and the brain, it may create mechanical
circumstances that may lead to making injury avoidance less likely during running. And, as a reflection of plantar sensory-
motor neuropathy, this could be where thick underfoot shoe cushioning may be
burdensome or a barrier to helping you better monitor your biomechanics and
improve prognosis of plantar sensory- motor neuropathy. Going back to the
research, according to the latest research, barefooting is strongly
associated with heightened sensory awareness or improved proprioception
because again plantar cutaneous and vibratory
sensations and cues are fully enhanced this form of sensory enhancements at the
foot is fundamental to a runner’s capacity to construct better mental
monitoring and spatial perception of their landing strategy which is a recipe
for improving symptoms of plantar sensory-motor neuropathy and may also
lower the cost of forceful impacts during running, potentially leading to
better injury prevention outcomes. This is why it may be unwise to take
increased plantar proprioception via barefooting off the table when trying to
treat plantar sensory-motor neuropathy especially if you are trying to correct
your heel strike running style and adopt a forefoot strike running style because
thick underfoot cushioning appears to diminish cutaneous and vibratory
sensations on the bottom of the bare foot, not only could plantar sensory-motor
neuropathy linger running in thick cushion running shoes, would be similar
to running blinded in your movement perception which may threaten running
economy as well. More compelling examples of this comes from a distinguished and
resourceful barefoot advocate Dr. Steven Robbins at McGill University in Montreal
he confirmed thick cushioned running shoes caused a loss of cutaneous vibratory and
pressure sensations by reducing proprioceptive sensibility on the bottom
of the feet which are risk factors lined up with plantar sensory-motor neuropathy.
His work really makes it more compelling to consider thick cushion running shoes
as a stark risk factor for plantar proprioceptive dysfunction, a form of
sensory-motor neuropathy and again, the consequences that may flow from this is
that a runner may exhibit diminished mechanical effectiveness, rushed
staggered or impulsive movements of the foot and leg as well as postural
instability and balance impairments which could add up to injury development
as compared to running barefoot with a forefoot strike landing pattern.
Orthotics may also cause similar worrisome outcomes in terms of treating
plantar sensory-motor neuropathy because orthotics are an added layer of spatial
distance between you and the ground, cutting off access to plantar sensory
feedback which could in turn, blur perceptual and spatial awareness,
potentially making it an extra challenge to run with optimal stability and
efficiency. I just really wanted you to have a deep understanding of how plantar
or foot sensory disconnection can be a fault-line that may come with an extra
dose of stress during running and plantar sensory-motor neuropathy, given
what we now know about the potential strong link between cushion traditional
right shoes and sensory motor neuropathy, it’s especially important to understand
the following and I really want to underscore this next point:
plantar proprioception may have a very heavy evolutionary significance because
many of the motor and sensory nerve fibers that line the bottom of the
bare foot links up to the old ancient part of the brain called the brainstem
which directs and mediates most involuntary refleive movements. It’s
this part of the brain that potentially enabled our barefoot running ancestors
to run safely without shoes. Thus, chronically interfering with this
connection via wearing thick cushion traditional running shoes may result in
plantar nerve dysfunction, like plantar sensory-motor neuropathy because millions of years ago, our ancestors didn’t run in shoes; their running form must
have been sensory-dependent and reflexively-driven
which may have resulted in a forefoot strike landing pattern as a protective
adaptation to help the body better cope with impact stress. A forefoot strike
landing pattern may have been an adaptive response in the absence of
running without underfoot cushioning to serve as a natural shock pad as a forefoot
strike landing seems to work best for aiding in energy absorption and decreased
impact loading, especially on the knee joint as compared with heel strike
running. Now, from that stage of our evolutionary history, may have proceeded
a running movement plan that may have favored a forefoot strike over heel
strike because of the less impact factor of forefoot striking; it’s the forefoot
strike landing pattern via barefoot running that may have been the key
partner that enabled our ancestors to run safely barefoot to survive and eat, and
obviously not walking or running in traditional cushioned thick running
shoes where there is little to no sensory input, which in this case, the
reflexive reaction of the leg to running may be less strong because of
the compromised sensory feedback loop in such footwear. Understanding this
certainly makes the case stronger that barefoot running may be the best route
forward in not only strengthening your feet in a sustained way and in staving
off plantar sensory motor neuropathy since plantar nerve problems seem to
arise when we become habitually shod. Remember, barefooting has very deep
evolutionary roots which may explain why barefoot running seems to work better
for retooling, recalibrating your biomechanics and deeply enhances plantar
nerve function due to the high level sensory nourishment at the feet and the
overall powerful plantar sensory engagement and enrichment that flows from
barefooting, makes barefoot running very suitable, functionally, in helping polish
your running form, improve your motor memory and movement coordination and
prevent plantar sensory-motor neuropathy That’s really the biggest takeaway. To
reiterate, plantar proprioception is really as old as
humans which is also consistent and circles back to the widely accepted
notion that humans evolved as barefoot runners which makes sense as to why such
motor nerve pathways exist between the foot and the brainstem (the oldest part
of the brain) and why cushion traditional running shoes have not fully succeeded
in dramatically reducing injury or help alleviate plantar sensory-motor
neuropathy. Additionally, traditional running shoes
really don’t have a good track record for preventing runner’s knee or shin
splints on account of thick underfoot cushioning could be interfering too much
with the proprioceptive system which may be good reason runners have a hard time
dodging impact-related injury because of the limited plantar sensory acuity. It’s
really important to never lose sight that proprioception is heavily
interconnected with the brainstem and is enormously sensory-dependent,
therefore blocking proprioception via blocking sensory input, especially at the
feet, may undermine biomechanical effectiveness on a very wide-scale,
causing us to lose our innate reflexive ability to run safely and may evidently
encourage sensory-motor neuropathy. Thickly cushioned running shoes may be one of the main external triggers for reducing plantar proprioception,
therefore would make clear sense that traditional cushioned running shoes may
again contribute to plantar sensory- motor neuropathy as Dr. Stephen Robin so
impressively revealed. This is why traditional running shoes may be
influencing the tendency of runners to chronically injure. Bottom line, always
keep your eyes on the trend-lines which clearly show the high injury rates in
habitually shod runners indicates very little upsides to wearing thick cushion
traditional running shoes in efforts to prevent injury because there is minimal
rich sensory interactions at the feet, running may get a little complicated in
cushion traditional running shoes especially for a beginner.
Besides, if cushion running shoes can’t reduce all the impact, how can they help
prevent all the injuries? Impact protection during running really does
start from the ground up. It also starts with reining in your worst mechanical
impulses to reduce mechanical stress. This is why your primary focus should
really be on putting barefoot running training first to have your feet stay
sensorally engaged to prevent sensory- motor neuropathy and get the most
sensory strength to increasingly improve your leg withdraw reflexes in their full
range. Also, it will help you tilt away from heel striking and boost motor
memory so you can retain that forefoot strike you learned through barefoot
running for when you do run into minimalist running shoes. This is how
barefooting may often bring lasting relief from plantar sensory-motor
neuropathy and may help expand the mechanical developments that go into
dramatic impact reduction during running. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. For
more information regarding the health and performance benefits of barefoot
running please subscribe to my youtube channel and don’t forget to follow me on
social media and I provided all those links down below in the description box
as well. Thank you so much for listening and watching. Have fun out there on the
roads and trails. Bye for now!

2 Comments

  • You're awesome 🙏🏼😎👣 Thank you.

  • Gran Vídeo, enhorabuena!!!

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