Barefoot running is one of the newest—and oldest–running crazes. Runner’s World recently ran an article featuring commentary from leading voices in the field entitled, “Barefoot Running: Two Sides of a Very Hot Topic.” On one side, where (realistically) are you going to run without your shoes on in today’s world safely? Back and forth around the local high school football field for an hour? Street and presumably treadmill running, the two most popular forms, would obviously be out.
On the other side, you can connect with the ground, carry less weight, save money, strengthen your foot, and—let’s be serious—have a little fun doing something unconventional. A study done by Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University found that barefoot running reduced the impact on your heel 960 times! Apparently, wearing cushioned shoes does not allow runners to fully feel how painful their heel strikes are. Unfortunately, the damage to the heel still occurs.
Nature magazine found that barefoot runners tend to land on the balls of their feet or flat on their feet. WebMD reports that running barefoot causes less collision force to your feet. Dr. Madhusudhan Venkadesan says that when running barefoot, people point their toes right before impact with the ground. This significantly decreases the jolt and shock the foot experiences. This type of toe-pointing motion is not really possible in a traditional running shoe. Remember that the foot was really designed to function in a wheel motion—fluid, springing, smooth. As Leonardo da Vinci pointed out, “The human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering.” Putting shoes on this “wheel masterpiece” is, in a way, like trying to drive with one of those metal tire boots the New York City police use to immobilize vehicles.
Whether running barefoot or soled, don’t leave home without your MP3 running tracks!