How Barefoot Running fixed my Back

Editors note: Guest post written by Bedrock Runner Wes Downing

Growing up, I quickly became involved in the fast growing sport of lacrosse. I was always told, while shooting, to cork my back as much as possible and release, much like a golf shot or baseball swing. As a result of my Lacrosse shot, I’ve struggled with a ‘bad’ back since sophomore year of high school.

An MRI revealed a bulging disc in my lower back, something that is incurable on its own. The doctor told me I had 2 options, rupture my disc and get intensive surgery, or strengthen the muscles in my lower back around the dics. Fearing the permanence and complications involved with surgery, I set course to strengthen my back in every way possible.

I tried the gym, running in shoes, P90X, and surfing. Throughout the process my back would feel sometimes better or worse – however nothing in particular seemed to work. Early this year I seriously re-injured my lower back because I did not warm up enough before a pick up lacrosse game. I was bed ridden for 2 days.

At this point I started considering more drastic options to help my lower back. I saw a friend running in sandals and after a lengthy interrogation about the benefits of barefoot running and walking – I decided to take the leap and give barefoot sandals a shot.

Resting at the top – mid trail run in Virginia.

I began running in Bedrock Sandals mid March 2012. I really took it slow at first by running ¼ mile increments on soft trails and beaches. As I continued running and building my barefoot endurance my lower back began to considerably strengthen. After 4 months of barefoot running my lower back feels unbelievably better. I believe that getting back to a natural stride – uninhibited by the structure in conventional footwear – has realigned my lower back. I now am able to fully enjoy the activities that once plagued my lower back and am excited to continue my barefoot journey.


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