Home Injuries Meet Podiatrist/Foot & Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Nick Campitelli

Meet Podiatrist/Foot & Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Nick Campitelli

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Before writing my first blog, I wanted to introduce myself to the readers of the Altra Zero Drop Footwear Blog. First and foremost I would like to thank Altra for asking me to contribute to this blog. I have a passion for this subject and I love helping others resolve their injuries, especially runners. My interest in minimalist running began 3 years ago when I was working at a health expo for the Akron Marathon and I was bombarded with questions about barefoot running. As a podiatrist, I was obviously against this given what we had been taught for years and our approach to treating various injuries with orthotics. Although I did not implement a lot of orthotics in my practice, I did still use them with runners. At the same time I was also suffering from an injury myself – sesamoiditis. This is an inflammation of the small floating bones in the great toe joint.

I had sustained a fracture of one which had healed but was aggravating me for approximately 10 years. I had tried every orthotic imaginable as well as undergone numerous injections over the course of ten years.

Note the multiple fractures to my sesamoid bones.

Despite this I had continued running but with chronic pain which had eventually caused my gait to change severely leaving me with chronic pain to my hamstrings as well. So, when I was asked to give my opinion of barefoot running, I really didn’t have one.

To generate an honest opinion, I first decided to try on a pair of Vibram FiveFingers which were becoming very popular at that time. My first response to them was, this is going to really aggravate my sesamoiditis. Initially it did but I began to notice that I was standing differently to avoid pressure to my great toe joint. I then began pulling the literature that was available at that time on barefoot running as well as running with traditional running shoes. I was surprised to find that there was very little if any concrete evidence that wearing a supportive running shoe that followed the existing paradigm of fitting with ones foot type reduced or prevented injury. As for the small amount of research that existed on barefoot running, it didn’t demonstrate any negative effects other then the obvious- stepping on glass etc.

The next step was to try running this way myself. I was very cautious and began running 1-2 minutes of each run on a treadmill either barefoot or with a pair of FiveFingers on. I would then finish the run in my traditional running shoes. I paid close attention to forefoot striking as well as increasing my cadence. I also had done occasional runs outside on the asphalt in the same manner. By 6 weeks I was able to run almost 2 miles and my sesamoid pain was 75% gone. I just couldn’t believe it. 3 years later, with over 2,000 miles either barefoot or in minimalist shoes, I am still pain free and enjoying running more now then I ever had.

This led to me partnering with Vibram USA as a medical advisor providing educational material on foot function and running. Many doors were opened as a result of this an I have written numerous articles and blogs as well as lectured nationwide on running in minimalist shoes.(www.facebook.com/akronpodiatry, www.drnickcampi.com, https://twitter.com/DrNickCampi)

After meeting crew from Altra, I am very excited about their shoes and being able to help educate others with injuries to use their shoes as they begin their transition to running with a more natural and proper form. I encourage anyone reading this blog to ask questions and I will do my best to answer, or if there is a topic that needs mentioned let me know and I will address with a personal article.


Dr. Nick


  1. I agree with the concept of barefoot running; however, I have high arches (tiny feet, size 6 for 5’4” 130 frame female) and tremendous “discomfort” in my arches and heels (which after years of denying I think it must be Plantar fasciitis?).
    What can I do? I use to run daily, 3-5+ miles fast (7 in pace) before retirement from the military . . . . I am 48, mother of 7, the youngest is 2 now. Thank you for your insight in advance!

    • Nick could certainly touch on this better than I could. It does sound as though you are dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. Check out our latest post here for some help.

    • As always, it is difficult to diagnose over an email, but I’ll give some general advice.

      High arches and flat feet are today becoming more accepted as a variance of foot types. For years we treated so many feet unnecessarily with orthotics because they were “flat” or had “high” arches and failed to look at strengthening the foot’s intrinsic musculature. So to blame a symptom on an arch type is really the wrong approach.

      Most running injuries are secondary to overuse and poor form. Both of which can indirectly be related to shoegear. In other words, learn how to run with proper form and most overuse injuries can be avoided. To ovoid overuse, learn to listen to your body and this is easily don’t with a hear rate monitor. 80% of your weekly miles should be at an easy rate that is not overtaxing you. As an example a 48 year old female should spend most runs in an approximate zone of 125-142 BPM depending on your level of fitness. Pace becomes irrelevant.

      To learn more about form and shoegear, visit http://www.naturalrunningcenter.com.

      Altra Zero Drop shoes are definately a good option once you understand form.

      As always, allow your injury to calm before increasing your intensity or mileage.

      Dr Nick.

      Dr. Campitelli recommends consulting a physician prior to starting any exercise program and the information provided here is not recommended to be advice in place of seeing your doctor for a medical problem.  

  2. Will these shoes support someone who has flat feet? I have tried other shoes for barefoot running and I have had issues with lack of support.

    • Try to focus more on form and worry less about support. Once you understand proper form and learn proper foot strike your foot will adapt without the need to support it. I have transitioned many runners into minimal issues with flat feet and have done very well.

      Dr nick

      Dr. Campitelli recommends consulting a physician prior to starting any exercise program and the information provided here is not recommended to be advice in place of seeing your doctor for a medical problem.  

  3. Can you comment on the foot-bed of this shoe? I plan on using this shoe for walking; I have diabetes & neuropathy in my feet. I woulld appreciate any comments, thank you. I need a very comfortable shoe.
    DRK Texas/USA To: Dr. Nick

  4. I have type 2 accessory navicular syndrome on right foot. footwear is the hardest for me; and orthotics don’t work. Other than surgery, do you recommend some alternative type of treatments like PRP or prolotherapy. I noticed on several of your blog posts, there is no mention of these alternative treatments. Stem cells and amniofix are other options like for tendon tears, achilles, peroneal brevis etc.. Your comments would be appreciated.

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