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.
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.