When it comes to sports some coaches try different things to help their players perform. In DeSoto, boys basketball coach Chris Dyer has found something he believes works to cut down on injury.
“Barefoot running originated because I had conversations with a strength coach at the University of Oklahoma who was from an Eastern European country and their philosophy was a little bit of get them out of the shoes,” Dyer said.
Dyer looked into it, and asked his podiatrist who at one time played football for the Cleveland Browns and told him the last two weeks of training camp the coach would take them to Atlantic City and have them run the sand beaches.
Without a beach or sandpit nearby, Dyer has turned to doing barefoot drills on the court. It’s something he has had his teams do for the past two years.
“With our kids playing AAU, I noticed two springs ago we were getting a lot of foot and ankle injuries during the spring of AAU and the summer when we don’t have contact with the kids as much,” said Dyer. “So I thought let’s go, let’s try this barefoot running and see if we can cut down on some of the injuries. And we did a lot last spring and, knock on wood, our kids came back to us and did not have the injuries with their feet they previously had.”
The drills aren’t every day. The boys only run them a couple times a week for no more than 10 minutes.
“I think it really helps the kids because it teaches them not to rely so much on their shoes,” Dyer said.
Barefoot running has its proponents and those against the concept, but Dr. Lisa Brandy, a podiatrist at Trinity Foot Center in Cedar Hill, thinks Dyer is onto something.
“We’ve been told that when they run barefoot you are using muscles in the leg more, not putting as much strain of foot muscles, you are in the normal mechanics of the foot,” Brandy said.
Brandy went on to say, “Definitely documentation saying you have less injury if you stress the foot and leg with shoe gear on short term because you use different muscles and you strengthen them – you usually strengthen your leg muscles more and you’re not forcing the foot into a position it shouldn’t be in.”
However, it’s important to note it’s not for everyone, and can’t be done too often or for too long.
“It’s not healthy for the foot because of the fact you don’t have a surface to absorb the shock putting trauma back into your ankles and knees,” Brandy said.
It’s why Dyer doesn’t do it every day or for long periods.
“We’re always looking at different things if it can help the kids academically or athletically I’m all for it,” Dyer said.