Are There Benefits of Running Barefoot?
What are the benefits of running barefoot? Have you ever seen someone run barefoot and thought - they are crazy! There is no way you'd find me running through the city streets (or country trails) without any shoes! But what if I told you that the research is stacking up that barefoot, or nearly barefoot, running might be the healthy way your body wants to work out. When you run barefoot, you tend to run more on the balls of your feet, therefore eliminating the heel-strike that nearly 75% of Americans do and all the consequences of it.
Heel-striking Cons from the Experts:
Dr Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor in Harvard University's new department of human evolutionary biology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, and colleagues, found that people who run barefoot or in minimal shoes strike their foot on the ground in such a way that they have almost no impact collision due to "heel-strike", unlike people who run in modern running shoes where the impact of the more prevalent heel-strike can be the equivalent of landing with two to three times of one's body weight.
People have been running for hundreds of years and specialized running shoes were only invented in the 70's. This means that there may be more to the science of running than Nike has told us. When you rely on the support of shoes, your muscles start to conform to that training and that isn't always the most healthy for the body and it's alignment. Research consistently proves that common injuries, like knee pain, can be overcome by changing your running gait to the balls of your feet. This is what happens when you run barefoot, you no longer heel strike and this challenges your muscles (especially your calves) in a completely different way. It takes some getting use to the toes being separated in the nearly barefoot shoes but think about how great it is for the feet to be used as they were in the way back days! No more scrunching the toes into shoes, but allowing them to spread out and earn their keep while you work out!
The next time your running shoes are maxed out and you go shopping, think about trying the barefoot five finger shoes. These shoes allow you to change your gait to a barefoot style, but still protect your feet from the dangers and elements of the outside world.