Intermountain Vein Center Doctor Reveals New Study on Running Barefoot

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Intermountain Vein Center doctor reveals new study on running barefoot. Results show runners with standard running shoes run longer and more comfortable than wearing minimal barefoot shoes.

Dr. S. Douglas Brown, a radiologist at the Intermountain Vein Center, conducted a study with a professor from Brigham Young University, Dr. Sarah Ridge, to discover if running with minimal “barefoot” shoes is better for runners than wearing normal running shoes. Brown and Ridge randomly selected 36 experienced runners to either continue to run with their preference of footwear or slowly transition them to minimal barefoot shoes over a 10-week course.

Dr. Brown ran M.R.I. scans of both the runners’ feet and lower legs before the 10-week course to check for any problems or injuries; all runners started the experiment with normal conditions. Half of the experienced runners were assigned to continue running with appropriate footwear, while the other half were given a pair of Vibram Five Fingers barefoot-style shoes. Runners with the minimal barefoot shoes were told to wear the shoes for one mile the first week and increase one mile every week up to three weeks. After three weeks runners could choose to increase miles as they wish.

At the end of the study Dr. Brown followed up with another M.R.I. and found most runners who wore regular shoes had edema levels of 1 in their feet. Most of the runners in the minimalist-shoe group had at least level 2 edema, which is an early indication of bone injury. Two of the minimalist-shoe runners developed level 4 edema or full stress fractures in their foot. Overall, most of the runners in the minimal-shoe group ran fewer miles at the end of the study from complaints of their feet hurting.

Dr. Brown and Dr. Ridge’s study was published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in February 2013.

Dr. Brown obtained his medical degree from the University Of Utah School Of Medicine, followed by an internship in transitional medicine at LDS Hospital. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology and then a fellowship in interventional radiology, both at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Brown is fellowship-trained and board certified in interventional radiology and his expertise includes treatment of disorders of the arterial and venous circulation, including acute stroke intervention, and uterine artery embolization for the treatment of uterine fibroids. He also performs spine intervention for pain management, including treatment of vertebral body compression fractures.

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