Doc’s Talk 03-25-2012

Dr. Scaff spoke to the group on “How To Pick A Pair Of Running Feet”.

Last week Dr. Scaff talked about why run for an hour.  Today is an unusual talk you will think doesn’t apply to you, but it does:  How to Pick a Pair of Running Feet.

While in medical school, Dr. Scaff worked among the Igorot Headhunters who live in the Philippine’s Northern Luzon Mountains.  These are some of the most ferocious warriors in the world. When they are born their feet look like yours do, but they go through life barefoot and as they do their feet change.  Although to us their feet may appear grotesque, they are architecturally perfectly adapted for running.

The Igorots were never conquered.  The Spanish didn’t conquer them during the Spanish-American War; the Americans didn’t conquer them during the Philippine-American War; and the Japanese didn’t conquer them during World War II, …and every one of these would-be conquerors wore shoes.

Shoes, including running shoes, seem to be the source of all our foot and leg problems.  Wearing shoes since birth our feet have been deformed and prevented from growing, …whereas people who grew up in places where shoes are not worn, or not worn as much, have feet which are adapted to the natural environment and are better for running.

Your feet change during the day.  At night when you are laying down the gravitational forces on your body are reduced.  When you get up in the morning you are taller and your feet are smaller.  By the end of the day people say, “My feet are killing me.”  Actually their shoes are killing their feet.  From morning to afternoon your feet get one size bigger.  When you run for one hour your feet get another size bigger.  After a year of running your feet get bigger again.

The new Vibrum Fivefinger shoes are out on the market and are doing quite well, but these shoes change your foot strike and take some getting used to.

You will need more than one pair of running shoes for the year, so, at this time, here are Dr. Scaff’s recommendations for purchasing running shoes:

  1. The preferable time to shop for running shoes is in the afternoon, after a walk or run (your feet will be bigger).
  2. Buy running shoes that are one size bigger than your foot measures after a walk or run.  
  3. Be sure they are loose on the sides, with one to one and a half finger widths of space between the tip of your longest toe and the toe box of the shoe.

In 30 years of doing this talk, no one has ever told Dr. Scaff that his advice made them buy shoes that are too big.

For more information refer to Chapter 19 “How to Pick A Pair of Running Feet”, in Your First Marathon – The Last Word In Long Distance Running, by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., available for purchase at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic on Sundays and online at:

For some good reading on nutrition, Dr. Scaff recommends everyone check out the daily postings on Dr. Alan Titchenal’s “Got Nutrients?” web site:

Here is a recent posting:

March 18, 2012
Meeting the need for the B vitamin biotin is proving to be especially important for pregnant women and people with diabetes. Rich food sources of biotin include eggs, liver (especially chicken liver), peanuts, and meat, fish, and poultry in general.

Consumer Link
Biotin Status: Easy to Measure and Often Marginal 24 Jan 2011

Research Link
J Nutr. 2011 Mar;141(3):353-8. Epub 2011 Jan 19.