I wrote recently about how our health care system resembles a protection racket. In a protection racket, you or someone else threatens people so that you can make money protecting them. Modern health care, especially in America, ignores prevention. It says let them get sick. Let the general public get sick so that we (health care providers) can make money treating them.
The profitability of let them get sick is illustrated by some numbers in Run Barefoot Run Healthy, a new book by Ashish Mukharji (who gave me a copy). Ashish has run several marathons. Before he started running barefoot, running caused all sorts of problems. To deal with them was costly:
- Two or three pairs of orthotics (a type of insole): $200-$300 each.
- One MRI, for what turned out to be ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome, a thigh injury): around $1,000.
- Twenty or more deep-tissue massage treatments for ITBS: around $80 each.
- Corns removed (twice): $500 per treatment.
- Twenty or more sessions of physical therapy for ITBS and Achilles tendonitis: $100-$250 per session.
- Several visits to orthopedists and podiatrists: $150 per visit.
- Cortisone injection for plantar fasciitis: $200.
Since he started barefoot running (3 years and 2 marathons ago), he has incurred no (zero) running-injury expenses. Interviews with other barefoot runners convince him this is typical. Long ago a runner friend of mine told me everyone who runs eventually hurts themselves. The truth of this was confirmed many times by runners I met after she said this. Now it appears she was right because all the runners she and I knew wore shoes.
I started barefoot running/walking on my treadmill a year ago. I have never had running injuries (probably because I walk — uphill fast — much more than run). Going barefoot saved time. During the first few months, I got four or five cuts (actually, splits) on the sides of my feet. The skin was split by downward pressure. The cuts made ordinary walking (in shoes) a little unpleasant. I did nothing about them. They healed and have not recurred.
A better health care system would have discovered the damage caused by running shoes long ago. We are lucky to live when personal scientists such as Ashish can figure out the truth themselves and tell others.