Learn About The Pros And Cons Of The Barefoot Running Craze.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen at least a few people wearing trendy, glove-like shoes with five toe compartments. These odd-looking shoes are part of a larger trend called barefoot running. Also referred to as natural running or minimalist running, barefoot running involves running in thin-soled shoes or no shoes at all.
Benefits Of Barefoot Running
Advocates of barefoot running emphasize that humans ran barefoot for centuries prior to the invention of running shoes. Barefoot runners claim that we need to return to this style of running in order to reduce the risk of injury as well as improve foot biomechanics. Barefoot running purportedly strengthens the muscles in your feet and ankles, which are left dormant when you wear running shoes. Running barefoot also allows you to improve your running efficiency and move faster because there is less weight on your feet.
According to barefoot running aficionados, barefoot running is more natural because your forefoot, or ball of the foot, strikes the ground first. The forefoot strike pattern decreases the rate at which the body collides with the ground, presumably reducing the demand on the knees and lowering the risk of knee injury. On the other hand, when you run with shoes, you land on your heel and the impact goes directly to your foot and knee, which is why running shoes have cushioning in the heels and soles.
How To Practice Barefoot Running Safely
Barefoot running shifts the demand from the knees to the ankles and its supporting structures. Habitual shoe runners’ calves are not conditioned to handle the increase in demand brought by barefoot running, so they often develop calf muscle fatigue as a result. Barefoot running can also cause plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon tears, and tibial stress fractures. The feet, ankles, and calves have to be strong in order to support your body when you run barefoot.
One of the biggest risks of barefoot running is the likelihood of stepping on a stone or glass and injuring yourself. Generally speaking, you should avoid running barefoot outside unless you have access to a safe running environment. Another option is to wear barely-there minimal running shoes, which protect your feet from dirt, rocks, water, and other hazards on the road.
If you’ve suffered from multiple impact-related injuries, consider incorporating barefoot running into your routine so that your knees don’t absorb all the impact. When you run barefoot, your calves and ankles absorb some of the shock. However, barefoot running isn’t recommended for long distances because it can be so strenuous for the muscles and ligaments in the feet and lower leg. Think of barefoot running as a beneficial tool at your disposal, but don’t ditch your running shoes entirely. Running shoes that fit properly and offer adequate support can improve your running performance and prevent injury.
Book An Appointment With Our Seattle Podiatrists
To discuss barefoot running or to schedule an appointment with a Seattle podiatrist, contact the Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington today. We deliver quality podiatry care at our comfortable and convenient clinics located throughout the greater Seattle area. Call (425) 678-3877 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.