No Shoes, No Problem

Have you tried running barefoot yet?

Over the past several years there has been a craze with minimal footwear. Whether it’s shoes that claim “zero drop,” shoes that look like toe socks, or shoes that are little more than a piece of rubber, shoe makers are claiming that shoes have been the cause of injury for years and that their shoe is the solution.

But who is right?

Can we really blame our shoes for all our injuries, our bad form or our blisters? On this podcast we’ve interviewed footwear owners, doctors, coaches and athletes who all have answers of their own. Is it possible that they could all be right? That by following all the suggestions we’ve heard, we can have the optimal running life?

In fact, most running tips we’ve heard aren’t contradictory. Getting enough rest, wearing shoes that don’t constrict, eating a balanced diet and eating enough, running with a smile, finding joy in the journey, incorporating strength training, taking care of our mind—all of these can be done without taking away from one another.

Today we are adding one more for you to consider. We break down the reasons why running without shoes could be a solution for your reasons and we discuss a few myths behind running barefoot. Join us as Steven Sashen, one of the fastest men in America over 50, tells us why he ditched his shoes and then started his own shoe company.

Shoe-Related Injuries

Steven began his shoeless running career as he was getting back into running after decades of inactivity. After dealing with several running-related injuries his friend recommended running without shoes as a type of diagnosis tool.

Steven started running short distances barefoot and would change his posture, stride, or foot positioning just based on how he felt. If he got a blister running, he would change how he stepped and soon stopped getting blisters entirely. Better yet, his recurring injuries seemed to melt away.

As lifelong sprinter Steven hated running long distances, but when he ran barefoot, he found himself running three or four miles at a time and loving it. He began running in thin homemade sandals when he ran on really tough terrain and soon after had an opportunity to make shoes for others.

Why Run Barefoot?

Shortly after he went barefoot, Sashen began doing research on why he was feeling so much better and why his injuries went away. He came to the conclusion that not being able to feel the ground with our feet is big contributor to bad posture and injuries. The information passed from our feet to our brain is crucial in how our body reacts to different terrains.

“[When] you put a bunch of padding between you and the ground you are essentially making your feet deaf,” says Steven. He goes on to explain that for thousands of years, the only footwear humans created was basic foot protection. These basic sandals still allowed for that feel which the brain actively uses to help decide how to place our feet and when to step lightly.

How Can I Start Running Barefoot?

If you are interested in giving barefoot running a go, Steven recommends running for 20-30 seconds at a time to begin. Find a flat surface and let your feet and body get used to the feeling. He says that it’s more about becoming aware of how we place our feet than it is about building up calluses. There isn’t a real need to slowly reduce the thickness of your shoes either, simply start running and walking without shoes more frequently.

As your body adjusts to moving around without footwear, you may find yourself adjusted your cadence, and feeling your legs come underneath your body more naturally. “Let your body be your coach,” says Steven, “A good coach will tell you, the only way he or she can do their job well is by getting good data.”

So, what do you think? Going to give barefoot running a go? If you do, let us know how it goes. But don’t blame us when you get kicked out of your local grocery store. ????

More in This Podcast

What’s it like behind the scenes when you’re a contestant on Shark Tank? How do Steven and his wife Lena balance marriage and running a business? How did Steven go from making homemade rubber sandals, to selling millions of dollars of shoes in just a few years? Does Steven still run barefoot? Find out the answers to these questions and more when you tune in to today’s Running for Real podcast.


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Thank you to Aftershokz and Generation UCAN for being a wonderful sponsor of The Running For Real Podcast.
The award winning headphones which are best known for their open ear listening experience. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first, but they absolutely blew me away, they are fantastic and were built for runners! Being able to hear your music as well as your surroundings is great for our safety.
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Thank you to Steven, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.

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