Here’s something interesting that’s come across my radar – you know how all these athletic shoe companies have been bringing us all kinds of new, high tech springs and cushioning and treads or whatever to run faster, jump higher, and get the best performance out of our feet? And all the big-name athletes who have helped design this footware and branded the shoes with their names? Well, turns out, maybe the natural way, the barefoot way, is best. Studies are saying that barefoot running prevents injury, and can even enhance performance! A professor at Harvard led a research team that looked at the “impact collision force” (when the foot hits the ground) of runners in shoes compared to barefoot runners. The impact was actually reduced by two-thirds by running in bare feet. Basically the difference is in how the foot lands on the ground. Barefoot runners land each step more on the ball, or the middle of the foot, which is more gentle to the foot. Runners in shoes tend to land more on the heel.
Another study looked at the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, who run hundreds of miles at a stretch wearing just thin homemade sandals. This type of footware puts the foot in a more natural position to land lightly and gently, the same way children run in bare feet. Researchers say that our thickly cushioned modern running shoes may actually be causing stress on our joints and feet because we’re not landing the way we were meant to do while running. They are starting to recommend more minimal running shoes. Some of the “new” shoes look kind of like a foot “glove.” If you decide to try out this age-old running style now made trendy, it’s best to gradually transition yourself for a few weeks and listen to the signals from your body to avoid feeling achey or sore while you get “back on your feet.”
The Barefoot Running Book: A practical guide to the art and science of barefoot and minimalist shoe running