Barefoot Running Debate

Hey everyone!

I had server/host issues last night so I was MIA. I’d like to start this post with a question for all runners… 

Have you ever run barefoot or thought about running barefoot? And not just running barefoot across a pool deck or while playing on the beach – I mean, truly running barefoot? No? Me either…until now.

barefoot running: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14922165@N00/150800432

The New Facts

A new study from PM&R: The Journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shows that shoeless running may actually be better for you than running with shoes. The study showed that the force placed on the joints caused by running is greater than when walking in high heels.

The Big Debate

Although the study is new, the idea of barefoot running being good for you is far from novel. There has been a long-standing debate over the benefits of barefoot running, with advocates saying it encourages a more natural style of running, placing less stress on the joints. On the flip-side, running with shoes was shown to increase the torque (twisting force) at the hip, knee, and ankle, compared with barefoot running. Furthermore, the researched showed that the padding under the heel and arch may cause increased stress on the leg joints. 

But, just as there are runners claiming barefoot is best, there are equal numbers of runners who say barefoot running is not a wise option. I agree with the latter and whole-heartedly admit that I do NOT embrace this barefoot running. Who really wants to run on the road or trails with rocks, sticks, glass, and other potential hazards? I’d rather have a little more stress on my legs than a hundred tiny (and not so tiny) cuts on my feet. Besides, can you imagine what your feet would look like after years of barefoot running – like one huge callus! Eeeww!!! Not even a pedicure could help you with that!

How do all of you feel about barefoot running?

If you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of barefoot running, Runner’s World has a great article in the February 2010 issue. The magazine also published a very humorous opposing view of barefoot running last year. 

I can’t say whether barefoot running is good or bad, but I’m not ready to give up my shoes just yet.

Comments

  1. That is interesting. I have always wondered about running without shoes. I don’t think there is ever going to be a conclusive answer to that question. At least I know that it is not completely bad for you. I always figured it would used different muscles, but my question would always be is it bad for those muscles. Thanks for sharing the info.

  2. I don’t know if you have seen, but there are two shoes that try to mimic the barefoot running.

    Have you seen the Vibram Fingers Shoes?
    Here’s a blog post: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/05/07/vibram-five-fingers-shoes/

    or the Nike Free Shoes?
    http://store.nike.com/?sitesrc=usns_share_link&country=US&lang_locale=en_US&l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pgid-71460/pid-88963#l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-284349/pgid-222333

  3. I always run (and I mean really run) on the beach barefoot, but I don’t think I would ever try it on a road or trail. OUCH.

  4. In conjunction with what Lauren said, I too have run on the beach barefoot but that is the extent of my barefoot running. I think for me trying to run on the road barefoot would be such a distraction. I would be worried about stepping on something so my form would suffer greatly.

    The jury is out….

    Jamie
    @fitforamom on Twitter

  5. I’m a big proponent of the Vibram Five Fingers. You should give them a try if you are serious about exploring the barefoot running thing. They protect your feet very well and provide a ton of feedback from the road. The best thing about them is they promote the mechanics of proper running form so that even running in traditional shoes becomes less jarring and stressful on your body. The point of barefoot running is not to run without shoes, but to run in a way that is better for you and hopefully more enjoyable. No matter how much cushion you put on a shoe, landing heel first (as most do in shoes) is worse on your joints and bones than landing on the balls of your feet (as with barefoot). Check out Newton’s site and look into the VFFs. It makes a lot of sense and has changed my running for the better exponentially in the last year.

    http://www.newtonrunning.com/run-better/optimal-running-form

    Neal
    (nturnage on twitter)

  6. I am with you… I don’t think I would be running outside on the pavement or trail barefoot.. on the beach just for a little fun sure. The bottom of my feet are so sensitive that I can’t get a pedi let alone run outside.

  7. Darkling Thrush says:

    “Born to Run” is inspiring and convincing. The Tarahumara have outrun some of the world’s best ultra runners wearing nothing more than their home made sandals. I just bought a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves and find I can run over rocks and even broken glass with no worries. They are among the new “minimalist” shoes designed to mimic barefoot running while still protecting your feet from injury. Essentially they have a 4mm vibram sole but no arch support or padded heel (both of which interfere with the foot’s natural function as the body’s shock absorber).

  8. Nike Free Run says:

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