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16 July 2009

Barefoot Running May Be Better For You

A small but growing body of research suggests that barefoot is the way to run. As a result, many runners have been shucking off their shoes in favor of naked feet or minimalist footwear.

Strong evidence shows that thickly cushioned running shoes have done nothing to prevent injury in the 30-odd years since Nike founder Bill Bowerman invented them. Some smaller, earlier studies suggest that running in shoes may increase the risk of ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and other injuries. Injuries plague 20 to 80 percent of regular runners every year.

Going shoeless allows your foot to flex and absorb shock. With thick heels, people lengthen their strides, landing heel-first and letting the shoe absorb the impact of each footfall. You can’t do that barefoot, so your body naturally falls into a shorter stride, landing first on the outside middle or ball of your foot. As you advance your foot rolls inward; the arch flattens and helps absorb the impact; it then springs back up as you lift your foot and push off the ground.

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