A 2010 Harvard University study suggested that running barefoot can reduce the risk of running-related injuries. These findings have many people wondering if they should get rid of their classic running shoes. The barefoot runners actually wear a sock-like shoe called “Five Fingers.”

Runners who wear shoes tend to hit the ground on their heels with a more powerful force. Barefoot runners, on the other hand, have a springier step and land toward the middle or front of the foot. With heel injuries common in runners, a transition to barefoot running could benefit some people.

While our feet are designed to absorb the intense impact from running, it does
not mean you should throw out your shoes just yet. The footwear itself is not necessarily the problem; it is the way people change how they run to accommodate their shoes. Newly developed footwear better mimics the way our feet strike the ground when we run barefoot.

If you are used to wearing “fancy” footwear, a better transition might be to wear less constrictive shoes. It is important to recognize that if you are able to run comfortably using your present shoe type, you may be best served by continuing to wear them, rather than attempting to alter what has worked for you.

If you do choose to run barefoot, we can help you make the transition safely and successfully. Barefoot running can require more force from the calf muscles, and the Achilles tendon may be stretched. See us for a program of exercises designed to provide greater strength in these areas.

We will also work with you to reduce running injuries and find the best form and footwear to help you get the most out of your runs. And we can teach you the correct running technique, whether you choose to wear shoes or not.
Lubricating Your Arthritic Knee

A decade ago, individuals who had osteoarthritis of the knee were limited in their options for treatment: anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, reduced activity or surgery. Viscosupplementation, a relatively new treatment involving injections of a lubricating substance called hyaluronan, has become available for patients who suffer from this painful condition or who are unable to tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

In a healthy knee, the bones smoothly glide over each other, thanks to shock-absorbing cartilage and lubricating synovial fluid. Patients who have osteoarthritis often have less synovial fluid than normal. When the cartilage breaks down and the gel-like synovial fluid deteriorates, you end up with the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis.

In viscosupplementation, an injection of hyaluronic acid (a substance naturally present in that precious synovial fluid) can boost the production of synovial fluid, increase joint mobility, offer pain relief and reduce inflammation. These injections go by several brand names, including Synvisc, Orthovisc, Euflexza and Hyalgan.

While viscosupplementation is not a “cure” for osteoarthritis, some studies have found that these injections can reduce pain and improve function for up to
26 weeks. If you are trying to avoid knee surgery, and other treatments have not alleviated your pain, viscosupplementation might be worth a trial. In fact, a
2008 Canadian study suggested that these injections, together with a strong physical therapy program and additional medications, could treat the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis just as effectively as knee surgery.

Viscosupplementation can certainly work hand in hand with your physical therapy. The injections may improve function and comfort in your knee, so that we can build strength and flexibility in the affected joint through exercise–which is a tried-and-true (not to mention a safe and natural) way to treat osteoarthritis.

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