Barefoot Running? For people with diabetes and neuropathy, barefoot could equal no foot: UofA Surgeon

The latest craze in fitness- barefoot distance running- adopting techniques used for centuries by Native Americans and African athletes- has led to many people dramatically changing their exercise routines. For some, that is beneficial- but for people with diabetes, it could literally cost life and limb. “I don’t think we can overstate this case”, notes David G. Armstrong, Professor of Surgery and Director of the University of Arizona’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), “People with diabetes should not go barefoot.” Armstrong, who directs the largest research and clinical group in the world dedicated to amputation prevention explains that “Over time, people with diabetes lose the gift of pain. This problem, called neuropathy, causes them to literally be able to wear a hole in their foot just as we might wear a hole in a stocking.” That “hole” also known as a diabetic foot ulcer, is what leads to more than one million amputations performed every year, worldwide. But Armstrong notes that the goal is not to sit on the couch. “We very much want our patients to be active– just protected. If you don’t use it, you lose it, but if you don’t protect it, you lose it too!”

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