In this next series of articles, The PhysioPRO team will discuss the latest craze of BAREFOOT RUNNING. We’ll tell you why its becoming so big, what the research says and also how to get started if you choose to do so…
To kick things off, Mitesh tells us if barefoot running is really good for you, or just another “power-balance” moment.
Remember the good old days when we were younger, laughed all the time…and ran barefoot in the garden…on the beach…even in the veld (…if you were lucky enough)…
Barefoot running as the name states is simply running without wearing any shoes on the feet. Running in thin-soled, flexible shoes, often called minimalist running, is biomechanically related to running barefoot. Barefoot running presently the source of much speculation and debate…begging the question, “is barefoot running good or bad for you?”
Scientists have found that those who run barefoot, or in minimal footwear, tend to avoid “heel-striking,” and instead land on the ball of the foot or the middle of the foot. In so doing, these forefoot runners use the architecture of the foot and leg to avoid hurtful and potentially damaging impacts, equivalent to two to three times body weight, that affect heel-strikers repeatedly.
According to a published article, in Nature magazine, “Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s. For most of human evolutionary history, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning.”
Although barefoot running or wearing minimal footwear may not be the fix for all injuries, there are some compelling claims for hitting the dirt running … literally 🙂
Development of a more natural running pattern (gait) and strengthen the deep muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot.
Removing the heel lift of most shoes may help reduce injuries, such as calf strain or Achilles tendinosis, by stretching the leg muscles.
Runners will naturally land on their forefoot rather then the heel. The heel strike during running only came about because of the excessive padding of running shoes, but research shows this isn’t the most effective natural running stride. The most efficient runners land on the forefoot and keep their strides smooth, short, light and flowing. Landing on the forefoot also allows your arches to act as natural shock absorbers.
You may improve balance and proprioception. Without shoes, you activate the smaller muscles in your feet, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination.
Research with regard to barefoot running points to either advantages or disadvantages. Some runners swear by barefoot running and others run injury free wearing running shoes. It may be impossible to come to a conclusion as to which is best.
All runners are different and what works for one, may not work for another.
BY: Mitesh Anop
Foot injuries, General Health/Fitness, Lower Limb injuries