Vonnie’s story…A runners injury en-route to The London Parks 1/2 marathon

A Runners injury en-route to The London Park’s half marathon

Like many people running for charity, our lovely friend Vonnie made a heart felt, and slightly nervous decision to enter the London Park’s half marathon.

As her  WhatsApp post reveals;

“Me! Yikes”!!   https://royalparkshalf.com/

Vonnie was a very good all round sportswoman with Schools County honours in 5 sports, and an England Academy ladies Rugby player,  massively encouraged in her sporting endeavours by her dad. He was a keen and accomplished endurance runner for many years, but he failed in his attempts to convince Vonnie to give distance running a go!

Vonnie’s motivation to run…doing it for Dad

Vonnie decided it would be a fitting tribute to fulfil her Dad’s wish and become a runner, while at the same time satisfy a desire to challenge herself and raise funds for a good cause!

So she entered this event to raise money for the “Cure Parkinson’s Trust”, choosing that charity because her Dad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2010… and so her running journey began.

If you are feeling generous please go to… https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/VonnieNewton

My motivation to help Vonnie

I was prompted to offer my help on 2 fronts and for 2 reasons;

  1. I’d treated Vonnie for various physical injuries over a 20 year period so I knew her background; THREE cruciate knee ligament operations…two on her right knee and one on her left.  Her preparation would need to be carefully planned to avoid any repetition of knee problems!
  2. My own mother had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, making Vonnie’s efforts truly worthy of my support!

Time to make contact about balance and Contact time

” If you like I’ll assess your gait and balance and sponsor you with a pair of BFS insoles, and do some preventative treatments leading up to the event. We could video the assessments then do some social media posts on them, and keep check on your progress through training to the race. What say you my ninja friend” 🤜🏻👣🏃‍♀️🐼x

Almost a Lost cause

It occurred to me when looking at the post below that Vonnie was also in need of some help with navigation…maybe all this careering around a field is where her problems began!

When politely questioned on this Vonnie replied…”now look here smart arse, one is royally aware one cocked up, struggled to get going, flapped around the field hither and tither like a Benny Hill sketch, nearly trespassed in a garden trying to get back on track, built a survival plan with 3 Highland Moo’s and finally got home to find my other half quietly doing yoga”!!


Off to a flying start…NOT!

It was with more than a touch of irony Vonnie set out for a light run a week later on Sunday 27th Sept. ’20, her destination being my home clinic 2 miles away, the plan being to carry out the balance and gait assessments. However, disaster had struck…she arrived being propped up by my partner Auriol, who had found Vonnie limping up the bridleway beside our horse paddock…this was NOT the start we had envisaged! Her expression was not joyful!!

The distance runners secret weapon…The Soleus

A quick test revealed a damaged calf muscle…her left Soleus…sitting deeper than the more obvious Gastrocnemius (the ones we notice on sprinters), the Soleus takes a lot of load during running, much more than the larger gastrocnemius muscle. It’s hugely important for distance runners because it;

  • propels us forward during running and walking
  • Bears most of the load from running
  • Is very resistant to fatigue

The Soleus Muscle

The less visible Soleus muscle may not have the sprinting power that the Gastrocnemius has, but the slow-twitch muscle fibres highlight its importance to long distance running. Also of huge significance is the Soleus connects to the Anterior cruciate ligament at the knee…historically a problem area for Vonnie! With 3 ACL operations we could suggest poor balance and gait may have been an underlying cause of her old knee injuries (that’s without the aid of a crystal ball of course).

First aid things first

So, instead of the intended balance and gait tests it was immediate treatment time; Ultrasound, ice, elevation and rest. Not what we had envisaged, and a potential dent in Vonnie’s training plans! So we embarked on an intensive treatment and rehab programme through Sept-October.

As we were happily between lockdowns, Vonnie was able to combine her soleus rehab programme with boxing, core training and upper body strength work with ‘Team Kaobon’ at  the excellent Athlete Movement Gym in Liphook, Hants.  Boxing in particular, helped relieve her frustration at the temporary delay to her training programme!

However, things were further upset when, like Vonnie, we all limped in to November Lockdown and the gym shut! If I recall correctly her immediate vocal response was “For**!!*??bleep**sake”…roughly translated to… “blast”!

Luckily, treatment could continue and rehab progressed to the point we could carry out the balance and gait tests featured her:  https://youtu.be/ZonhwLOGaw4

Why is it All About Balance?

It may seem entirely logical that we would assess gait, but you might wonder why assessing balance is so important. To summarise;

  • Every stride is a one-legged balancing act.
  • Bad balance will cause unstable foot strike and equally unstable push off.
  • Imbalances in contact time between left and right feet have been proven to cause poor performance and lead to injury.

Runners…be ready to chill out!

It’s unlikely you’ll be on your way to see your sports therapist when you sustain an injury! So it’s really important for all runners have an ice pack or two sitting in the freezer ready for use and a couple of ‘instant ice packs’ to take to events just in case.

The sooner you apply ice to a soft tissue injury (for 15-20 mins), the faster your recovery will be!

As Vonnie’s mileage increases, and hill sessions are included, we are able to deal with any aches and pains during  our fortnightly sessions. So far the injured calf  has been absolutely fine, and we periodically retest her balance and gait (in her running shoes) as she progresses through the insert levels to ensure everything remains in good order.

One step at a time

At the point Vonnie clocked up her first 10 mile run she had progressed to BFS insert level 3, and barely noticed them until the last few strides of the run. This was great as we had discussed the need to progress steadily through the levels without any pain…only a mild stimulation to her foot bed proprioceptive nerves is needed.

Happy birthday Vonnie

“How do you celebrate your birthday in Lockdown???..You run 10.3 miles for the first time ever”!

At the point Vonnie successfully clocked up her first 10 mile run she had progressed to BFS insert level 3, and barely noticed them until the last few strides of the run. This was great as we had discussed the need to progress steadily through the levels without any pain…only a mild stimulation to her foot bed proprioceptive nerves is needed.

So, Vonnie moved to level 4 and completed a steady 4 mile run one week later. It was interesting that her left foot…the ‘injured’ leg side, was totally ok with the step up to level 4, but her right foot was more aware… almost to the point of pain…so I suggested she go back to level 3 and try again in a few days.

An image of Barefoot Science Insoles Therapeutic Full size

Level 4 is in fact the thickest of the 7 levels in the featured Therapeutic model, so it can take a bit longer to get used to. Levels 5, 6 and 7 are wider and longer to offer more surface contact and therefore a greater area of proprioceptive stimulation. I know from personal experience that level 4 was the one I spent longest getting used to.

Having comfortably completed a 7 mile run today 21st Feb, with level 5 in place, Vonnie’s training programme and her BFS programme are progressing nicely together.

Although she did admit to having ‘got a bit lost’  at the end of her run…again!!

Vonnie’s progress report;

Fitness: good. Body condition: good. Insole progress: good. Navigation: still dodgy!!

The moral of Vonnie’s story

When she got injured it seemed Vonnie’s chances of completing enough training to get safely to the start line were ‘in the balance’ (I know, a terrible pun), but by addressing her poor balance and encouraging more symmetrical movement with BFS insoles, and of course some TLC from me, she got back on track and is looking forward to the ongoing challenge.

So the moral of the story, and our message to all runners, whether ‘Couch to 5k’ starters or high level athletes is; check your balance. It is the most simple yet useful and relevant assessment to;

  • discover how good your balance is
  • see if your balance is equal on left and right foot
  • find out whether you running shoes are helping or hurting you
  • choose the shoes that offer the best balance and most comfort
  • then add BFS for the ultimate combination!!

Best Insoles for all Shoes: Dr Mark Cucuzzella, runner, coach, running shop owner

The science behind Barefoot Science

Barefoot Science insoles have been objectively tested 1000’s times using Optogait Systems for gait assessments, Force plates to access foot weight distribution and sEMG to measure muscle activation;

BFS Progressive Foot Strengthening Insoles – An sEMG Perspective

Barefoot Science Verified and Validated 

In every case they show approximately 30% improvement in balance after only 300 steps, an increase in muscle activation in the hamstrings and glutes…our running powerhouse… and an immediate return to more symmetrical firing of left and right side muscles.

The gift of enhanced Proprioception

The secret of how BFS insoles work is ‘Proprioception‘ the nerve system that controls balance.

click to learn more; A Chiropractors view of the importance of balance in gait

Vonnie is ‘Virtually’ sure to run well!

Two weeks ago the London Parks half marathon was confirmed as being a ‘Virtual’ event prompting the following exchange;

Vonnie: “inevitable but mildly gutted”

Me: “on the bright side you’ll be back home…showered, ice bathed, sauna’d and getting going with your post race refuelling…liquid form… much sooner than if in London”!!

Vonnie: “yeah but I’ll need people to run parts of the race with me to create an atmosphere…won’t I Stuart??”!

Me: “errrr…I think I’m washing my hair that day”!

So…April 11th…any takers in the Liphook-Bordon area care to help out? I’m starting my warm up now, and might be good for a mile…eeek!!

I’ll blog about Vonnie’s training progress again over the next 6-7 weeks. In the meantime please share any of your own stories about your injuries sustained during training via our social media channels…we would love to hear about them;

Facebook @allaboutbalances

instagram @allaboutbalanceuk

twitter @allaboutbalanc1









Anyone that puts Barefoot Science insoles in their shoes will have an increase in performance and a greatly reduced chance of injury. I now wear my Barefoot Science every day and recommend them to all of my clients.

Richard Pady, Canada
Triathlon Coach, Trainer and Competitor

I have used Barefoot orthotics on some of my toughest casesof plantar fasciitis, tibialis posterior tendinosis and metatarsal- gia and have had excellent results. These are people who have tried and failed traditional orthotics, stretches and various other devices. Barefoot orthotics are easy to sell as people can see the logic in the approach. Thoroughly happy with the product and service

Mark Gillham
Physiotherapist, Cowra NSW, Australia

Immediately from stepping onto my insoles with level one insert I felt a subtle but reassuring change in posture and balance. 8 weeks later I am up to level 6 and two weeks ago I was able to start running again pain-free for the first time in 14 months since a back injury. By way of an update; "Thank you Barefoot Science:- I am completely stoked as I just ran a personal best for a 10k trail over mixed terrain, pain-free!" ...........This afternoon's time was 57:28 - pretty ordinary for many but great for me as my goal has been to get 10k covered in under an hour......... and, after all, I am 186cm, 108kgs and 49 1/2 yrs old! I first 'ran' again in May and took 11 mins to cover 1.6km / 1 mile!

Tim in Alton, Hampshire
A member of EDC Crossfit

In our office, Barefoot Science (BFS) has been effectively used to help improve this proprioceptive deficit. Barefoot Science is a non-orthotic mid-arch stimulator. Due to its ability to create mid-arch activation, BFS mimics barefoot walking in sand and over time can dramatically help to reduce a proprioceptive deficit and improve foot strength. We highly recommend that all take a look at this wonderful product.

Dr. Peter Gorman and Dr. Chelsea Keesler
Chiropractors New York

I wanted to let you know how I’m getting on with the Barefoot Science insoles as I just moved up to insert no.5 after almost 6 months, which I am finding very comfortable. I can feel them, but in a comforting sort of way. I have to report that I have had hardly any instances of dizziness since about a week from starting to wear them. I am so IMPRESSED! I am trying to do a few balance exercises every day as you recommended, and as a near 70 year old with seven small grand-children, four of them only two so they need floor level attention, I am conscious of the need to keep my balance while getting down and back up! The knee bending is okay up to a point and I’m hopeful it will improve as I use it more. But, as far as the balance side of things go I am thrilled. I think it is positively miraculous and am very grateful to you for suggesting them.

Veronica Barratt
A Guildford lady with balance issues

Hi There, My name is Andrew Coltart. I was a golf professional on the European Tour for 19 years and a former Ryder Cup player. I now walk the fairways of the world commentating for a Major Satellite TV Company. My problem came to the fore when I was 47 years old. I had developed Plantar Fasciitis and it was becoming unbearable and debilitating with pretty much constant pain out on the course and in spite of various types of treatment no signs of improvement. I was starting to wonder if I’d be able to carry on working in my current role. Then I met Stuart Gordon of All About Balance and he explained The Barefoot Science Foot Strengthening System. Basically, because of these simple little nerve stimulating plugs that you insert into the underside of the insole, walking has become pain free and enjoyable again. These are no ordinary insoles. Don’t be fooled by expensive orthotics. The Barefoot Science Foot Strengthening System worked wonders for me, not only helping me continue in my work without any pain, they have also improved my balance…an essential factor in general life and massively important to achieving a consistent golf swing! I highly recommend investing in some.

Andrew Coltart UK
Former European Tour and Ryder Cup Golf Pro., Satellite TV on course Golf analyst.

I have been using Barefoot Science insoles consistently since the beginning of the year. They took me a while to use regularly but with the addition of extra pairs, I am able to ensure that I am using them on almost all occasions. This includes walking, CrossFit WOD's, running and every day wear. As you know, my flat feet caused me terrible pain with shin splints and tight calves every time I did any high impact training including running, even just the shortest distance. I haven't rushed through the stages and have only just moved onto level 3. Tonight I completed a 5km run with zero pain. This is the furthest I have run since 2011 and I even shaved 1 minute off my best 1 mile time!! I've found something comfortable that offers me a solution to pain free training, and I'm only half way through the 6 level programme. Thank you so much for introducing me to the Barefoot Science insoles. ☺

Claire Chivers
Crossfit athlete EDC Alton, Hants.

Personal, Barefoot Science testimonial 26 April, 2013 To my fellow Pod people and persons that have foot related problems, I've found a product called Barefoot Science. I like this product and I use it daily, both for myself, and my Podiatric patients, I personally have had foot related injuries and deficits that caused daily foot pain for years as a result of my military service, not any longer though with my Barefoot Science inserts. I would not go without these inserts in my shoes. I was introduced to this product at a foot healthcare symposium, by Mr. Derek Denton of Alamo Medical services... As an employee of a Podiatry Service of a VA hospital in Texas, I perform highly technical work involved in the design, development, fabrication, alteration, assembly, fitting and repair of orthotic foot braces and orthotic shoes for Veterans as related to their post military service, i.e.: disease ,injury and overuse of the feet and ankle(s). I interpret Podiatrist' prescriptions and perform all steps required in the fabrication and fitting of the several types of orthotic braces, for many of which there are no models or precedents, including but not limited to ankle, foot and lower limb, as related to Podiatric disabilities and advise physicians concerning all types of corrective devices available and modification necessary; to help heal or ameliorate these conditions. *Presently now with the Barefoot Science product(s) I personally have noticed over the years the Pedorthic/Podiatric appliances and more complex appliances in the Pedorthic /Podiatry labs were more accommodating to the “functional foot conditions” that kept the foot aligned and rigid, yet never strengthened the foot, although there is a myriad of devices that claim they do so. I have tried most and until now none of them worked for this purpose of strengthening the intrinsic muscles. I started working with Barefoot Science a few years ago, and it has really turned our practice into a healing clinic. Helping ameliorate painful Podiatric conditions such as plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, claw toes, hammertoes, corns, plantar fasciitis, patellar misalignments, chrodromalacia patella, ITB syndrome. I have been working in this field of Podiatry since the mid 1980’s, both with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel, now with Veterans of all armed services as a triple Board Certified Pedorthist and Podiatric clinic manager. I wished we would have had this Barefoot Science product while I was on active duty as a Navy Corpsman, this may have prevented a lot of future/past foot related conditions that we see now. I have also noticed currently within our Podiatric practice a remarkable shift for continuity of care while using these barefoot science rehabilitative foot inserts. The patients get better and stronger while walking not sitting with their feet elevated and hoping the Nsaids do the job. I’ve noticed a reduction of fatigue from all our patients now that they can walk and repair themselves; we have reduced the need for pharmaceuticals (pain meds), orthotics, foot-braces, or surgical interventions, finally solutions ,for these chronic and painful foot problems! *I agree with the following statement of use, and I could not have said it better! Each Barefoot Science Arch Activation SystemTM comes with a pair of insoles to fit into your existing footwear and a series of progressive arch activation inserts. To start, just pop Level 1 into the underside of the insole, slide them in your shoes and get on with your day! It feels like a mini foot massage, sending waves of comfort throughout your body. That sensation is actually your foot muscles waking up and getting stronger. When the sensation fades, usually within a week, your feet are ready to move up to the next level. It’s that easy! With each step, your feet become stronger and more efficient. I recommend this product, and I am not just a practice of one, I work with Dr Karen Brooks, a Podiatrist, we tag team on every Veteran that enters our offices for Podiatric services, she too has over 25 years’ experience in Podiatry Practice and is also very happy with the results of this innovative design and the multiple uses of this barefoot Science rehabilitative and preventative shoe insert to help our Podiatric patients/Veterans. Sincerely, Mike Olden... P.S. Please note: We have a Zebris gait lab pressure measuring platform onsite in our clinic’s Pedorthic lab, that is used to measure our results on every patient pre and post usage of the Barefoot Science rehabilitative inserts. Both static and dynamic is monitored, along with postural sway, including the shoes that they are worn in. The proof is in the pudding, try it for yourself! Michael P.Olden, H.t; Ost; C-Ped; Pmac. Department of Veterans Affairs American Board for Certifications in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. *Board Certified Pedorthist cert no: Cped0724. KD DIV.HERT Team Decon Coordinator /Instructor KD DIV.Podiatry PAVE TEAM Coordinator/Trainer KD DIV.Local AFGE 2281 Steward+SGT-AT-ARMS KD-Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System-Team Coordinator Advanced Disaster Life Support Instructor-Cert. Advanced Disaster Medical Response for Providers-Cert. AHA-Basic Cardiac Life Support Instructor-VA-Cert. ECU2 Containment Unit- Staff Trainer-KD-Div. Surgical Service, Code 11C Podiatry / Pedorthic Clinics KD -Div. South Texas Veterans Health Care Systems 3600 Memorial Blvd., Kerrville, Texas. 78028-5768 Wk: (830)-792-2660 Fax :( 830)-792-2532 VA Cell (830)370-2887 Twitter – DEMPS17 Email: Michael.Olden@med.va.gov

Michael P.Olden, H.t; Ost; C-Ped; Pmac.
Department of Veterans Affairs American Board for Certifications in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. *Board Certified Pedorthist cert no: Cped0724

Hello Barefoot-Science Team :-) I wanted to let you know I've been using your products for more than twenty years. This product is the one and only item I ever purchased from a TV infomercial back in the early 2000s! At the time I was struggling with orthotics. They were expensive and I found that anytime I was not wearing my orthotics, I had pain and strain issues. This technology is brilliant. It has given me the strength and freedom to run and play in my bare feet. It's also good to see you have continued to advance and add to the technology. I'm looking forward to receiving my new pair of Therapeutic Plus full-length insoles. With gratitude, Zeta Lay

Zeta Lay

I have been using Barefoot Science Innersoles for almost a year now. I have quite flat feet and was getting bad shin splint pain when running. I very slowly over 5 months went from the smallest to largest inserts of the Innersoles and find they have really helped me. I now run 10k without foot and ankle issues. My advice is to go slowly up the insert sizes and run less until you are used to them. I will keep using these innersoles, they have worked really well for me. I used them in all of my shoes. Thanks, James.

James Clarke
Runner, Godalming, Surrey

As a personal trainer I will run approximately 25 miles a week and Nordic walk a similar distance with my clients. I am always trying new kit that will benefit clients and prolong my working life. I started using Barefoot Science Foot Strengthening System in January 2020 and a year later can report that my feet and legs, and my balance have never been better. I have happily recommended them to clients who have all reported similar benefits. I have finally found an insole that I will be sticking with long-term.

Andy Webb
Personal Fitness Trainer Haslemere, Surrey.

I am a 51 year old long distance runner and completely ruptured my plantar fascia in the left foot a couple of years ago. I was told by an orthopaedic foot surgeon that I should ‘change my sport’. After 6 months of no running I slowly got back to it but it wasn’t until I tried the BFS system one year later that I started to be able to run better and pain free. I would like to see more of this system tested in the NHS and, where appropriate, used by musculoskeletal and orthopaedic doctors and physiotherapists. I think they have a role to play both in sports and in the role of improving mobility in all age groups. The system certainly gave me more benefit than my expensive ‘custom made’ orthotics a few years before!

Dr Susie Cooper MBBS, MRCP, MRCGP, BSc(hons), PgDip (SEM)
GP and Rheumatologist with a post graduate Diploma in Sports and Exercise Medicine

The Barefoot Science people know their insoles work – they’ve done extensive trials that show dramatic pain relief and improved energy. But I honestly don’t think they realize how truly remarkable a product they’ve invented. These insoles help so many people with such a variety of complaints – not just because they align posture or provide cushioning and support for feet (like orthotics) – but because they activate the plantar musculature and foot bed proprioception which I believe cross trains the body out of the core bias that underlies a multitude of inefficiencies and subtle imbalances. I believe it literally completes the upright posture circuit and brings about posture without effort!

David M. Lemke, NMT, sEMG Tech
Dave offers neuromuscular therapy and wellness consulting, while he also conducts research to develop and test core wellness exercises and equipment.

Foot and ankle injuries are a huge problem in professional and amateur sports. BFS is the only product out there that allows for complete foot and ankle strengthening.

Scott Forehan

“As an athletic development coach who works with professional athletes on a daily basis, the BFS system has become the greatest tool to have at my disposal for strengthening the lower extremity musculature. It’s been especially helpful in correcting muscle imbalances that might negatively affect foot strike patterns in gait as well as strengthening and stretching the ankle and foot following an injury.”

Gray Cook
Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, a Strength & Conditioning Coach and a USWLF Weightlifting Coach. Author of Movement: Functional Movement Systems—Screening, Assessment, Corrective Strategies (2010) and Athletic Body in Balance (2003)

As a Somatic Movement Educator and Comprehensive Pilates teacher I have found the Barefoot Science Insoles Incredibly useful for myself and for my dancers. Right from the beginning you are able to feel very subtle shifts happening within your body which travels beyond the feet, through the legs, pelvis and beyond. I have found them incredibly useful because those subtle shifts help the body to realign itself and maintain a more accurate centre of gravity, which can often get thrown out through injury, overuse or tiredness. As a result, not only have I found these insoles help with the technical demands and fine motor control needed for dance and movement, but also provide increased levels of comfort for the joints during the course of a busy working day. Having tried many different products for feet over the years covering a full spectrum of cost, for me, Barefoot Science insoles come out on top and are a really worthwhile investment to help optimise your dancing and, more importantly, have great potential to be part of your toolbox for healthy, happy dancing feet!

Sarah Pritchard, RSME (Registered Somatic Movement Educator) and Comprehensive Pilates Teacher

Since using the Barefoot Science insoles I’ve seen and felt improvements both in gym based training and athletic performance. As I've progressed through the levels over the last 3 months, currently on level 3 of 7, I have increased my Back Squat by 10kg, and Snatch by 5kg! The security in the position is most noticeable with leg drive, and positioning in squats seeming far more stable and powerful. Within my athletic performance in Cricket I have also noticed significantly increased stability in my movements, especially my bowling action, with far clearer and stronger foot contact at delivery. Looking forward to continuing up the levels and see what comes next!!

Shae Taylor. HE lecturer on Sport Science (Human Performance) programme. Strength and conditioning Coach for Athlete Movement, Liphook, with main focus on Olympic lifting.

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