Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Benefits of Barefoot Running

Barefoot running is running on any surface without the protection of modern padded running shoes. Some enthusiasts consider the Vibram FiveFingers, the very thin-soled shoes that look like rubber gloves for the feet, similar to running barefoot itself. The purpose of wearing these is to protect the feet from sharp objects that may cause injuries.

Photo ©RunnersConnect.net
 
Barefoot Running Prevents Foot Injuries

The natural tendency when one uses cushioned running shoes is to land on the heels first. However, according to a study published in the January 2010 issue of Nature, barefoot runners land flat-footed or on the balls of their feet when they run. This creates less impact collision, leading to reduced incidences of foot injuries.


Researchers admit though, that the evidence they have are anecdotal, and more research will be done to verify this data.


Running Barefoot Promotes Enjoyment of the Terrain


Running barefoot makes one feel the natural motion of the feet as well as the varied surfaces of the terrain. The sensation of feeling the land they are running on—especially on the beach or grass—makes the run more enjoyable.


However, running without shoes on a rocky road may not be advisable for newbies in the sport. The risk of getting injured from pointed rocks or broken glass is too high if one has not developed the foot calluses needed to be protected from such hazards.


Easing Into Running Barefoot 


Unless one’s feet are already calloused, the best thing to do is start running in softer terrain first such as grassy areas and wet sand. Start at a slow pace, building up gradually to harder surfaces. Alternating between hard and soft terrains will decrease the chances of sudden blisters.


When the soles of the feet feels tough enough, then it may be time to shed off the footwear and run foot naked. It is important to listen to the body, especially what the feet is feeling, and proceed at a regular pace. Stop if it hurts.


Running barefoot must be comfortable. Let the soles develop the natural muscles it didn’t have before so it can develop those protective calluses faster.


Nature had designed the curvature of our feet to run in a specific way, utilizing every muscle and tendon to move unimpeded. With the advent of modern running shoes, runners have lost touch on how to effectively use the full extent of their foot muscles to avoid injuries. Running barefoot is an alternative way of running correctly and enjoying the run more.



This was previously published in Suite101.com and deleted there at my request.

2 comments:

Great article, though I only run barefoot at two places. One - at the pool (though your not suppose to run) as I jump into the water, and two - at the beach as I run and get into the water!

Hi Kenley! I have ran barefoot on the road and my biggest difficulty was the small rocks. It hurt haha I will buy a Vibram soon!

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