Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Running Barefoot: Shoes or No Shoes?

You have probably heard of minimalist running shoes, created to promote the illusion that you are running on your bare feet. I like to call them “gorilla shoes” because they do make your feet look like that of a gorilla. Or some sort of mammal with big toes and scaly feet. But you thought the world was becoming more modern, right? So why would people want to run on bare feet anyway?

Lately, researchers have been going back to historical times to try to figure out what worked for our forefathers that could work for us. They did do intense manual labor, and did walk hundreds of miles with no shoes on. But was it better?

Every few years, the barefoot running fad pops up again, and it makes you ask if it is worth considering. In theory, it makes sense. When we run, we are supposed to land on the balls of our feet to reduce the impact on the feet, ankles, and knees. Running in shoes leaves us less aware of our feet, and so we tend to land on the heels. Some of the running shoes also have various types of padding, which makes it even more difficult to land on the balls of the feet.

Running barefoot or in minimalist running shoes allows us to be more aware of our feet, and land more softly, which allows us to go farther and reduces the risk of injury (for short distance races). For long distance races, some running experts have argued that you should in fact land on your heels.

I still maintain the position that every person is different, and every running surface is also different. Running barefoot on asphalt might work very well for one runner depending on the shape of his/her feet, while running in heavily padded shoes on a sandy beach might work well for another. The key is to be open to trying new things. If you naturally prefer to run in less clothing, and live in a clean area, maybe running barefoot is right for you. We wouldn’t want you to get infected with all the nastiness out on the street now, would we?

What do you think? Would you try running barefoot?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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