Know the Basics of Barefoot Running
Today most runners focus on having the best footwear available for their workouts. Shoe companies have designed supportive and cushioned footwear, which is the new norm for running. However, throughout most of history, running was completed while barefoot or only using very minimal covering, such as moccasins.
Throughout the years, a handful of Olympians have competed while running barefoot, and have found success. Outside of the U.S. barefoot running has been common, especially in underdeveloped countries where shoes are a commodity only for those who can afford them.
Modern day running shoes have been blamed for many running injuries, especially those which are chronic in nature. Studies conducted comparing regular shoe users with barefoot runners have shown that those who wear cushioned shoes tend to land hard on their heels, rather than landing towards the middle of the foot or on the ball, otherwise known as the forefoot step.
Some of the benefits of barefoot running include:
- The strengthening of certain arch muscles - muscles that normally don’t get a workout when wearing traditional running shoes.
- Less oxygen consumption due to less energy being used.
- Decreased risk of ankle sprains, so you are less likely to end up with subluxing peroneal tendons.
- Decreased risk of plantar fascitis and other chronic leg injuries.
However, there are risks involved, so when deciding to switch to barefoot running there are many things to be considered. You are far more prone to external foot injuries when running barefoot. Puncture wounds, scrapes, scratches, and bruises may afflict your feet, especially if you choose to run on rough ground. These can become dangerous if they get infected, and they can also delay your training. So that is a risk that is always there when you run barefoot.
The weather can also have a huge effect on your training if you are running sans shoes. Running on ice or snow can be extremely dangerous without a surface between your foot and the ground. The skin on your foot simply can not grip the slippery surfaces as well as a rubber sole can. Your feet can also be burned or frozen depending on how extreme the outdoor weather is.
If you have diabetes or any other condition which detracts from the sensations that can be felt in your feet, do not attempt to run barefoot, as you are at a higher risk of injury.
But if these different problems are weighing on your mind when you are considering making the switch, you may want to think about minimalist-style running. Many companies are starting to manufacture shoes that act as a very thin, protective layer over your foot. Vibram Five Fingers, Merrell, Nike, and Altra Sports are all making their own versions of these zero drop shoes.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about switching over to barefoot running, and make sure to transition slowly and carefully to avoid injuries during the transition process. It takes a little time to get your body used to running in the barefoot way but once you switch, you’ll never go back to normal running!
About the Author
Emma Green is a resident of Southern Utah. She is passionate about dogs and health. You can visit Emma on her blog at treadmillreview.com, or on Google+. Feel free to contact her with any questions at email@example.com