Losing your "sole": Is barefoot running right for you?
BACKGROUND: Humans have been accomplished endurance runners for more than a million years. Our endurance running abilities may have evolved to enable our ancestors to engage in persistence hunting long before the comparatively recent invention of projectile technologies used for hunting purposes. And before the mid-1970s all humans ran in either no shoes or very minimal footwear such as sandals, moccasins or thin running flats. People were able to run comfortably and safely when barefoot or in minimal footwear by landing with a flat foot (midfoot strike) or by landing on the ball of the foot before bringing down the heel (forefoot strike). These kinds of foot strikes differ profoundly from heel striking both in terms of how the body is moving and the resulting forces on the body. Most runners who wear standard running shoes usually heel strike, but most barefoot or minimally shod endurance runners forefoot strike and sometimes midfoot strike. (Source: http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/1WhyConsiderFootStrike.html )
BAREFOOT VS. RUNNING SHOES: Running barefoot causes less collision force to the feet than running in cushioned shoes. Runners who run without shoes usually land on the balls of their feet, or sometimes flat-footed, compared to runners in shoes, who tend to land on their heels first. Cushioned running shoes may seem comfortable, but may actually contribute to foot injuries. And by running on the balls of the feet or the middle of the foot, runners avoid more forceful impacts, equivalent to two to three times of body weight that shod heel-strikers repeatedly experience. (Source: http://www.webmd.com)
DISADVANTAGES: There are obvious disadvantages to running barefoot. Thick-soled shoes are much more forgiving when running over glass, sharp objects, ice and so on. Also, if a runner is a heel striker, it takes some time and much work to train the body to forefoot or midfoot strike. Runners may be at greater risk of developing Achilles tendonitis when they switch from heel striking to forefoot or midfoot striking. (Source: http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/1WhyConsiderFootStrike.html)
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