Barefoot running has increased in popularity in recent years. In fact, Dr. Segler recently lectured at a medical conference on the topic of barefoot running trends. Part of the appeal in barefoot running technique is to increase your efficiency by using more natural running biomechanics in order to hone your running form.

The American Podiatric Medical Association has a position statement declaring that barefoot running is an unsafe activity and is not recommended by podiatrists. Of course not all podiatrist agree with this position. I happen to be one of those dissenting physicians.

Toenail fungus is common among runners. In fact all fungal infections are common among runners. Particularly athlete's foot. Athlete's foot is nothing more than a fungus infection of the skin on the foot. A toenail fungus infection is actually caused by the same organism that causes athlete’s foot.

When you run your feet sweat, moisture collects in your shoes and the ideal environment for fungal growth is created. If you run on back-to-back days the problem is compounded because your running shoes never completely dry out.

If you happen to develop a case of athlete's foot, the fungus is growing between the layers of the skin. As the skin peels it sheds fungal spores into your shoes. These spores of course are the seeds from which fungus grows.

If you are running, doing hill repeats or some other strenuous workout, and you repeatedly bumped the toes and the end of of the toenail on the inside of the running shoe, the fungal spores can get between the toenail and the underlying nail bed. The fungal spores begin to grow and develop into a fungal toenail infection.

However when you run barefoot, you not have any risk of bumping the toenails repeatedly against an inside of a running shoe that is ripe with fungus. So in that respect, running barefoot is actually much lower risk for developing a toenail fungus infection as compared to running with running shoes.

The risk is mainly related to the potential for fungal spores to collect in your shoes and then have trauma where those spores are actually in contact with the toenail in such a way that they can become embedded in or underneath the toenail and start to grow. If you are wearing minimalist running shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers without socks the risk of developing one of these toenail infections actually increases significantly. 

If you start to notice discoloration such as white or yellowish spots where the toenail seems to be changing and getting thicker it could be a fungal toenail infection. Treating these infections is not really a big deal. Our podiatrist can actually bring a laser to your home or office in order to directly kill the fungus and help your toenails returned to their normal clear and healthy state.  For more information on discount toenail fungus laser treatment and laser toenail fungus removal treatment visit http://www.lasertoenailhouston.com/

Dr. Christopher Segler, DPM is Board Certified, American Board of Podiatric Medicine.  He believes the best podiatry practice combines cutting edge technology with the old-school convenience of house calls. He makes podiatry house calls for young active adults who want to get rid of their funky toenails as quickly as possibly. He brings the laser to homes and offices throughout the Houston Metro including Downtown Houston, the Houston Heights and  Sugar Land, Texas.  If you have a question about fungal toenail laser treatment, you can reach him directly at  713-489-7674.

Hi “My Running Doc!”

I recently read the book “Born to Run.”  after reading it, I became intrigued and have decided to try some minimalist running shoes. However a lot of stuff that I read online says that might get injured if I run barefoot or in minimalist shoes. 

As a little background, I am experienced marathon runner and have been running for decades. I have a neutral foot type and never had any serious running injuries. 

Do you have any recommendations on how to safely choose minimalist running shoes so I can run with a more natural running form to convert to more of a minimalist style?

San Francisco, CA

Hello Peter,

Great question!  There are a number of different types of minimal running shoes that  you can choose from.  But before you can make a reasonable choice on which you would be right for you you have to understand the basics of “minimalist shoes.”

I define a minimalist running shoe as one that has lightweight construction, minimal support and a decreased forefoot to rearfoot drop. 

In case you’re not familiar with minimalist running shoe construction is important to point out that the “ forefoot to rearfoot drop” is the difference in height of the heel as compared to the forefoot. Standing barefoot is a 0° drop.  A running shoe with a zero-degree drop is flat. Any shoe that has no more supporting material under the heel than under the forefoot will have a 0° drop. 

A standard running shoe has a 12 mm drop. This means that there is 12 mm of material under the heel, lifting the heel up relative to the forefoot.  Proponents of minimalist running argue that all this extra material under your heel is what forces you to land as a heel striker when you run in these type of running shoes.
Vibram FiveFingers® are the shoes that many people think of when they hear about barefoot running.  The argument for this type of shoe is that you get the most sensitive ground feel, and hence a running experience that is the most consistent with true barefoot running. However you are protected by a pliable rubber outsole. These shoes certainly fit the criteria of a minimalist shoe in that they have very little support, they’re very light weight and they have a zero-degree drop (meaning the heel is no higher than the toes.) 

Given that most people are accustomed to walking and running in shoes that have a slightly elevated heel, they can at risk of injuries like Achilles tendinitis and even potentially stress fractures if they switch to rapidly to a barefoot running style.

There are other shoes however which will help you learn how to run without the drastic change in forefoot to rearfoot drop.  Another extremely  popular minimalist running shoe is theSaucony Kinvara. The Kinvara has a 4mm drop, is very light (7.7 oz.) and is very supple.  it allows a good ground feel and lends itself the natural running form however it still maintains a modest amount of support. It allows a bit of insurance in the sense that if reform starts to fall apart and you begin to convert into a heel striker you at least have some cushion to protect you.

Another good option is Newton Running shoes. Newton’s are unique in that they have elastomeric lugs under the forefoot that help encourage you to land as more as a forefoot or midfoot striker.  For a neutral runner like yourself, the Newton Gravity Trainer would be a good choice. It weighs 9.1 ounces and has a 3mm forefoot to rearfoot drop. Newton running shoes are designed specifically with the intent to help runners learn how to convert to more of a natural running style. In fact Danny Abshire, the founder of the company is also authored a book which helps teach runners to convert their running style away from heel striking to potentially more efficient stride. 

I think Danny has the right approach. I myself run in Newton running shoes for speed workouts and for tempo runs.

However I also incorporate a couple of different kinds of running shoes based on the workouts that I am doing. I run in Kinvaras for some moderate runs.  I also run a more of a typical cushioning type of running shoe when I do long runs, or any run where I expect that I might walk. Reason for this is simple. Most people it is spent their lives in elevated heel shoes can develop a tight Achilles tendon. Walking in shoes with a 0° drop can lead to Achilles tendinitis quite rapidly. As someone who trains continually and almost always has an Ironman on the schedule I can afford to develop any issues. I consider using multiple types of running shoes as cross training for my feet. I believe it decreases the risk of injury.

If barefoot running form is a new adventure I hope you will find it to be helpful in developing a more efficient stride and ultimately a more enjoyable running experience. 

Dr. Christopher Segler, DPM is board certified, American Board of Podiatric Medicine.  He believes that the best medicine can be fast, convenient and low-cost treatment. His innovative housecall podiatry practice model helps to keep costs down for patient with making expert care more convenient than ever.  

If you have a tight work schedule we can even see you in your own office.  We often do house calls for executives so that they can be seen between meetings.  When there is no time to waste, a house call is definitely the best treatment and just what the doctor ordered!  

We offer house calls all over the Houston area, including the Galleria Area, West University, Bellaire, Southside Place, Downtown Houston, Midtown Houston, Uptown Houston, Memorial, Montrose, Houston Heights, and Washington Heights.

If you have a question about toenail fungus and wonder whether or not the laser fungus removal treatment might be right for you, you can call and speak directly with a toenail expert by calling  713-489-7674.  And yes, you will actually get to speak with the doctor.