Conventional Medicine vs. Sports Science vs. Holistic Health

After my 16 mile long run a couple weeks ago, I had severe foot pain. It was on the top of my foot, near the ankle. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but my initial though was a stress fracture. With a few days of rest, the pain subsided dramatically and I ruled out the possibility of a stress fracture. However, something was causing the pain and I wanted to get to the cause. It had been a few years since I had been to the doctor, so I figured it was time to setup a physical. I could talk to the doc about my foot then.

I went to the doctor and mentioned my foot pain. By the time I actually got an appointment though it was about a week and a half from the initial pain. By this time I was running again, still taking it easy, but the pain was slowly going away. The doctor recommend that I see a pediatrist. She gave me the name of a doc that was a runner himself. I liked this, as I felt he would understand the situation a lot more.

I made an appointment with the pediatrist the following week. I was excited to go, because running is important to me and I don’t want to be injured.

I met with the pediatrist and explained the situation. Told him about my marathon and triathlon training, as well as when the events where. He seemed to really get it. This was a relief.

And then we talked about how I’m using zero drop shoes. The conversation turned. He seemed very put off that I would even consider such a shoe. I explained that I’ve been running this way for years without any issues. He then proceeded to tell me that I was lucky nothing worse had happened yet.

He examined my foot and had asked if I noticed any swelling. I hadn’t, and then he asked if I was taking any anti-inflanitories. I told him, just curcumin. He didn’t even know what that was. I had to explain to him. Then he said oh so something natural? I’m sorry but curcumin, its amazing, this not news.

At the point the doc thought I was some sort of hippie runner that wasn’t going to listen to anything that he suggested. Which I’ll admit at this point was true. He told me that all he could offer is that if it hurt take a week off and cross train. Nothing ground shaking.

I asked him if there were any exercises I could do to help my situation. He told me that because of my style of running my achilles was shortened and I’d have to stretch them out. He game me one stretch I can do. From my understanding of minimalist running, removing the heel lift of most shoes helps the Achilles tendon and calf muscle stretch and lengthen and may reduce injuries. But perhaps our doc hasn’t bothered to look into the benefits of minimalist running.

I have to say I’m very disappointed with my visit. Not only did I not receive any useful advice, I was treated as if I were beyond reproach.

I’ve done my research and I understand the benefits of minimalist running. I also understand the risks. The bottom line is the human foot was designed to run barefoot, not in shoes. Can shoe technology help us? I’m sure there are many ways they can, but when it comes to nature, sometimes mother nature knows best. Instead of trying to impede how the body works, let the body do what it wants to do. What it evolved to do.

This experience has mad me really think about Conventional Medicine vs. Sports Science vs. Holistic Health. There is a lot to consider when seeking advice with the body. I believe in the approach I’m taking, but that is only from my experience. I can’t say conventional medicine is wrong. But when it comes to my body I’ll continue to use a holistic approach. It’s working for me. I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been. I’m more fit now than I’ve ever been. I’ve not been sick in nearly 3 years, so what I’m doing is working for me.

And guess what, no more pain in the foot. A little rest was all I needed, the body took care of it and my training will resume as usual. We’ll see if I’m being naive or not, but I’m confident in my decision.


Growing up in Colorado you can't help but love the outdoors. Something magical happens with 300 days of sunshine and the Rocky Mountains in your back yard. My athletic endeavors started on the bike, I would get out and ride whenever I could. In 2011 I moved to Oxford, England for work. I missed the sunshine and mountains, but discovered my passion for running. When I moved back to Colorado I started combining cycling and running, so it was only natural that I started competing in triathlons. I took second place at my first sprint, and caught the bug. Today I'm training for my fourth Ironman.

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