Running barefoot has been hotly debated ever since the inception of the running shoe. Shoe manufacturers will tell you that you need to wear shoes to lessen impact on your knees, ankles and back. At the same time, barefoot advocates will tell you that you all running shoes accomplish is teaching you how to run improperly. So who is correct?
- Running shoes do protect your feet from possible injury
It is true that running without any type of protection on your feet can be fairly dangerous. Most of us don't have perfectly groomed grass with no objects in them to log mile after mile on. Roads, trails and even tracks often have debris or rough surfaces that one can get a cut or bruise from landing on a sharp object. This is a definite benefit to wearing a shoe.
- Running shoes compensate for poor running form
Shoe manufacturers will applaud this statement but there is a downside. While running shoes often protect from impact to the knee, ankle and back, this compensation trains people to run improperly. Heels are made bigger and softer so people can slam their heel into the pavement. This impact can be completely avoided by running with a midfoot to forefoot strike.
- Running barefoot encourages a midfoot to forefoot strike
Go out and take a jog on a grassy surface for a few strides. Notice how your stride automatically adjusts to landing midfoot. There is no jarring to the ankle, knee or back. Barefoot running advocates have long been pushing the benefits to running with this type of form. The impact, or braking motion, from landing improperly can do years of damage to ones joints.
So how can a person keep his or her feet protected while still running with proper form? The answer is in finding a shoe designed for a midfoot to forefoot strike. The most popular shoe is the five finger running shoe. It is designed with a minimal heel to allow for proper running form and a midfoot strike. Before you go off and buy a pair of five finger running shoes, practice running barefoot on a soft surface. You will immediately see the difference. Remember, changing running form takes time but is well worth the effort.