Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Barefoot Running: Why You Should Try It

It seems that everyone and their brother are trying out the latest running craze. It’s called barefoot running. And while many barefoot runners don’t actually run without any foot protection, the shoes they wear are minimal. Proponents of bare foot running say that it has alleviated their running pain.

English: barefoot running
Barefoot running (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
They claim to be able to run better without traditional running shoes and there is a lot of evidence to support this. We weren’t born with shoes on after all and a running shoe does alter the way your foot hits the ground. Much like wearing high heels, traditional running shoes elevate the heel and may cause more harm than good.

Reasons to Consider Barefoot Running
There are two main reasons why people try and often prefer to run barefoot (or with minimal shoes). These reasons include:

1. Less Risk of Injury

When you run as your body was meant to run, that is without a shoe altering the movement of your feet and legs, you move naturally. This reduces your risk of injury. Additionally, when you run barefoot you will notice almost immediately that your foot hits the ground differently.

Your foot will strike at the midfoot, instead of hitting your heel first and rolling through you’ll hit more flat footed. You will also run with shorter strides and you’ll run more lightly. All of these changes reduce your risk of injury. The muscles in your ankles and feet become stronger too which means they can handle more when you run. You’ll be able to run further and faster without injury.

English: An example of a barefoot runner in a ...
An example of a barefoot runner in a 5K race. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. It’s Fun!

The other reason is that many find running barefoot to be more fun. Think about how the grass or sand feels on your feet. For most, this is a good feeling. Running barefoot enables you to begin to experience the world through your feet. It’s almost like wearing gloves all of your life and then taking them off to feel the world around you with your hands for the first time! It’s a lovely sensory experience.

Before You Run
It’s important to start slow if you’re considering barefoot running. In fact, most experts recommend walking barefoot around your home and in your yard first. You need to build the muscles in your feet and acclimate your feet to the rough textures on the ground first. You may also be happy to know that barefoot running doesn’t make your feet look ugly. In fact, most barefoot runners don’t have calloused or hard feet. Their feet look natural and soft.

If you’re interested in trying barefoot running, you may also consider starting with a pair of minimalist shoes. You’ll still want to start slowly and strengthen your feet; however you may be able to get on the road faster with a little protection.

Be sure to check back Thursday for some helpful tips for getting started with this fun form of exercise!

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