Barefoot running is rare in an age of expensive athletic shoes and street glass. However, coaches and trainers are increasingly embracing barefoot running for their runners. Recreational athletes are also starting to embrace this trend, as they are tired of wearing expensive shoes and sustaining lower extremities injuries. This trend is not new. People have been running barefoot for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Zola Budd, who ran barefoot in 1984 to break the women’s world record of 5000 meters, made barefoot running popular. Why are we so willing to pay a lot for rubber and cloth to protect our feet? Shoes are the problem or the solution. There is much debate about running barefoot and many aren’t in agreement.
Proponents of barefoot claim that the shoe-shod foot, which is a foot enclosed in a shoe, becomes weaker over time. The body cannot sense the ground and adapt accordingly, according to them. Inability to adapt and sense the ground properly can lead to injury. Running in a shoe is more energy-intensive than running barefoot. Some runners claimed that the minor scratches on their feet felt less painful than the blisters they usually have to contend with after a full or half marathon.
There is no scientific evidence to support barefoot running. A few studies have supported the use of barefoot running. A study published in the Internal Journal of Sports Medicine showed that running barefoot actually has less impact on your feet. This is due to how the body adapts to the impact. Another study showed that running in shoes can cause the body to use 4% more energy than running barefoot. Comparative studies have shown that there is a higher incidence of injury in the unshod foot in underdeveloped countries.
Opponents find these studies inconclusive and argue that the studies were not sufficiently large or properly conducted. Opponents point out the fact that the study was done in developing countries, but this does not tell us much about the performance of developed countries in terms of injuries or performance.
Barefoot running is opposed by many people for many reasons. The most vocal opponents to barefoot running are generally podiatrists. Foot protection is the biggest reason for opposition. Running without protective footwear gear is the biggest risk for puncture wounds. Many podiatrists believe that injury and blisters can be caused by ill-fitting shoes.
Many believe that our ancestors ran and walked barefoot. The surfaces we use today are more rigid and difficult to walk on than the grass, dirt, and stone roads our ancestors used. Road hazards such as glass and metal shards were not an issue even a few hundred year ago.
There are many types of feet. There are two types of feet: some have high arch feet, others have low arch feet. While some foot types might be able to run barefoot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all foot types will. The foot mechanics are very complicated. People who have flat feet and overpronate need a supportive shoe. Sometimes, an orthotic can be made for them. People with high arch, rigid feet may require a shoe or insert to relieve the pressure. These two individuals are likely to sustain injuries if they attempt to run barefoot.
If you’re not having problems with injury or performance, keep your current shoes. You might also consider barefoot running if your feet are between a high arch and low and you have tried every insert and shoe on the market but still get hurt. You should gradually build up to barefoot running if you are interested in it. If you choose the right surface, it is possible to sustain puncture wounds, scrapes, cuts, and bruises. You can start on grass or a smooth surface. You can also try the sand on the beach, or the track. Begin slowly and gradually.
A Word About Shoes
A poorly fitting shoe can lead to lower extremity injuries. Shoes can cause injury if your foot is placed at an unnatural angle to your hip and knee. Too tight shoes can lead to blisters at your toes or toenail problems. Too loose shoes can lead to tendonitis and blistering at the heel. Too flexible shoes can lead to plantar fasciitis (heel or arch pain) and may cause tendonitis. Good shoes don’t have to be costly. Look for a supportive midsole when looking for a running shoe. You can test this by grasping the toe and heel areas and bending the shoe in half. If the shoe folds in the middle, it will not support your foot. You should ensure that there is sufficient space at the toe box. To avoid blisters, check the heel counter. Make sure that the heel counter is strong enough to hold the heel in its place. Make sure the shoe is comfortable. Before you go out on a run, wear them around the house and on the floor.
Running barefoot could be a great way to improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury. Before you throw your shoes in the trash and go for a run naked, make sure to choose a more comfortable shoe. If you have a high or very low arch, are diabetic, or have a tendency to overpronate, then barefoot running is not for you. You should choose the right running surface and avoid puncture wounds if you decide to try barefoot running.