DEAR DR. AUSTIN: What is your opinion on the whole “barefoot revolution?” I started wearing minimalist shoes a few years ago and I love how much better I feel now that my walking style has changed. But my partner, though he liked his Vibram five fingers, never learned to walk in the “correct” way with them, continuing his heel-to-toe gait, possibly due to his learning disability (dyspraxia) which makes learning new movements very difficult. Recently he had an experience which suggested he may be developing a heel spur and plantar fasciitis. I would love some recommendations on when barefoot is good and when it can be a problem. — BAREFOOT REVOLUTION
DEAR BAREFOOT REVOLUTION: The house is only as good as the foundation it sits upon. You can wear any shoes you want, but if the feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine are out of alignment, it doesn’t matter what shoes you are wearing: there will be dysfunction.
Heel strike running is never recommended, due to the impact on the system. Chi running is a much better solution. That being said, the more neutral the foot position, the better.
Dyspraxia is another issue entirely. Being a neurological disorder, it can be related to misalignment of the skull or first two bones of the neck. The largest bundle of nerve fibers travels through that area. These nerves innervate the sensory organs, the brain and balance centers. Interference at that level can cause major neurological disorder. Chiropractic is the process of detecting and correcting spinal misalignments that cause neurological communication breakdown. Interference in a communicating system leads to dysfunction. Chiropractic removes interference and improves systemic communication.
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