Podiatrists just have it backwards

Advice from doctors, typically goes something like this: Modern shoes are advisable, but if you don’t like them go for minimalist shoes, and if must run barefoot, do it on grass or trails. This view also comes out in their attempts to debunk the argument about our ancient ancestors running barefoot: They ran through fields and woods, not on modern roads. That’s just backwards. Bare feet work great on smooth hard surfaces; trails are tough.

I did my favorite 5.5 mile loop today for the first time since I started barefoot in January. The loop is a mix of woods, fields and roads. Trails through the woods are challenge the feet. Generally hard packed dirt is fine. Cover it with leaves and pine needles, even better. But with pine needles come pine cones. They aren’t too bad on the feet, but they exude sap which is annoying on the soles when it gets waded up with leaves. Worse, my trails are peppered with roots, sticks, acorns and rocks…and they are often half-covered.

There are a few places where I could run on grass for several hundred yards. If you can find a loop that’s all grass, good for you. I had a great time in the woods, but had to pay close attention and still bruised my feet up a bit. I was easier back on the roads.

So, contrary to what podiatrists say, I’ll tend to wear my Bikilas off road and bare feet on the road.

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3 Comments on “Podiatrists just have it backwards”


  1. Exactly. As Barefoot Ted says, grass is a mystery material – you just never know what’s lurking under it. He also refers to asphalt as the answer to our ancestors’ prayers! So smooth and consistent. It is quite strange how we all first think running on made-made surfaces would be far worse. I used to think that way, but after trying both barefoot, I changed my mind. The thing is grass and soft dirt is better if you’re going to land on your heels first. But if so, that’s yet another reason to run on a very hard, unforgiving surface until you get your form correct.

  2. Phil Odence Says:

    Thanks, Clynton. I don’t know that particular BT reference. Can you point me to it?


    • I don’t know if he’s posted it online. I heard him say those things when I assisted him at two clinics at ZombieRunner recently. Will have post on it soon.


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