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Is running with 'bare feet' really better than running with supportive shoes?

Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Jan 23, 2012
Running barefoot has become popular again. There are advantages to running with bare feet, but the disadvantages include the obvious: sore feet, cuts, bruises and more. If you injure your feet while running without shoes, you may not be too happy if you have to take a break from running.
James Weaver (Milford, CT) on Jan 23, 2012
I would have to say that it depends on the individual. There is no medical proof that barefoot running is better than supportive shoes. Some say that wearing supportive shoes takes away the responsibility of the muscle, leading to pain in the legs and lower back, while running barefoot will cause your calf and foot muscles to work harder, eventually easing the pain. Barefoot runners land on the balls of their feet and take shorter strides, both of which lower impact. If you have never run barefoot, start slowly. You have to build up a tough layer of skin first. Consult your doctor before trying it. There are shoes that are called barefoot shoes that are very light, if you don't want to actually go without shoes. I personally would not want to run barefoot for the simple fact that I don't want to run over certain objects.
Stefan Aschan (New York, NY) on Jan 23, 2012
Two weekends ago I went rollerblading in Central Park and that's when I saw it: Someone running barefoot in Central Park. Of course, I was being cool, and like many others I didn't stare. Although my thoughts were something like:"Only in New York, Only in New York." Well, not true. Many individuals run barefoot. Among them are well-known international athletes who have successfully competed shoeless, such as Zola Budd-Pieterse from South Africa. Surprisingly, you can put Austrians who have grown up in the mountains in that category as well. As children we ran in the forest, in the field and to the neighbor's property without shoes. Running long-distance events in bare feet is evidently not a barrier to performance at the highest level. Barefoot running is beneficial because running shoes appear to increase the risk of ankle sprains. (This may occur either by decreasing your awareness of foot position or by increasing the twisting torque on the ankle during a stumble.) Running in shoes also appears to increase the risk of plantar fasciitis and other chronic injuries of the lower limbs by modifying the transfer of shock to the muscles and supporting structures. Running barefoot reduces oxygen consumption by a few percent. Your competitive running performance should therefore improve by a similar amount, though there has been no published research evaluating this effect. If you want to try running barefoot, the philosophy is: Take it slow. You need to transition slowly from running in shoes to running shoeless. Ligaments, muscle and bone strength around the foot and ankle need to be gradually conditioned. This can be simply done by standing on one foot without shoes and socks on an unstable platform (like a Bosu or even a folded towel). Or try walking barefoot on the toes. Start with only 5-10 minutes of barefoot walking on the ball of the foot and slowly increase the time. Eventually, aim for a jog, and then a run. Three to four weeks of barefoot training will give the plantar skin enough time to become resistant and tough, allowing for longer periods of barefoot running without such minor injuries as blistering. Clients of mine have applied my strategies to allow them to sprint barefoot. Starting this year, there will be a new event at Strength 123. I will take 5 individuals of similar condition upstate for track running barefoot. If you are interested in this outing, please send us an brief note. Kind regards, Stefan Aschan, M.Sc. EXPERIENCE my book: CHECK out my site: READ my blog: