Gentle Running and Living

by Dr Patrick Salmon, PharmD, PhD

Member of the Barefoot Runners Society

Founding Member of the Tarahumara Spirit   

Be gentle

to yourself

and others!

“Life is hard enough to add extra suffering to it”. We propose here a way to build a stronger, healthier and happier self through gentle running. Then, this “ascetic hedonism” can be translated into several aspects of life, to humbly contribute to a better world.

The Human Foot

Under construction

The human foot is a masterpiece of Evolution

-Leonardo da Vinci-

Breaking News!

For Running, the Human Foot has all the technology you need!



If you take a look at the human lower leg, you can see that the combination of the calf muscle, the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia, makes a structure that is stronger than any running blade made of the toughest alloy of Kevlar and Carbon.

Especially the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia are made of fibers so dense, so strong, so big, so resilient, that no man-made material can be a match.

When you run correctly, you land first with the forefoot or the midfoot, then your heel. Just after, your plantar arch will collapse, causing a stretching of the plantar fascia. Then, your ankle will make an angle that will stretch the Achilles tendon and the calf muscle. This combination makes a HUGE spring that will absorb the energy of the landing and store it to spring back like a giant coil. That is the magic of running and the result of millions of years of evolution of humans as professional runners.

And this is just the beginning. If you go deeper in the human foot, you will discover a huge level complexity as illustrated in this picture.

And if you go even deeper, you will discover a wonderfully complex arrangement of bones and ligaments, all designed to do 3 things in an optimal way, stability, motion control, together with shock absorption and spring.

And finally, you must know that you have 200’000 nerve endings in the sole of your foot. These nerve endings, together with propioceptive input from the whole foot, will sense the ground in real time, and will tell your brain how to adjust your foot and leg movement to adapt to the ground in just milliseconds.

You realize how much signal can come from your sole nerves when you get a foot massage.

So why put your feet in casts when running? It is like putting boxing gloves on to play violin.

Shoes, especially running shoes, should be used only to protect the foot (against heat or cold, sharpies, pebbles, etc), and certainly not to prevent it to work how it is supposed to work.

However, the vast majority of modern shoes sold in “running stores” are built in such a way that they seriously hamper proper foot movements, and are thus responsible for lots of injuries on the long term.

Let us review these injuries:

One result is this:

Another result is that:

ACSM running-shoes.pdf