Below is an article by Richard A. Lovett that appeared in National Geographic News on January 27, 2010. It talks about the benefits of running barefoot, especially fewer injuries and smoother motions. Both as a result of less stress on the feet and a different balance for the whole body.

In Christopher McDougall’s book, Born To Run, there is a whole section about barefoot running and also about the companies who sell running shoes. Out to make money, these companies sell shoes that are actually BAD for your feet! As the shoes support the foot’s bones and muscles and ligaments, the same foot does not develop as well and actually becomes flabby, which results in more injuries than those of barefoot runners! It’s a huge fraud on the public. “In fact,” McDougall writes, “there’s no evidence that running shoes are any help at all in injury prevention…a 20 billion dollar industry seems to be based on nothing but empty promises and wishful thinking…”

Naturally I can’t comment on the legitimacy of this view. But I love the idea that it’s so radical. Of course I have thought for years that it is important to have proper support or your feet, protect them from the pavement, rocks, glass, twists and sprains. Here is a knowledgeable and experienced runner and author challenging everything I have taken for granted my whole life. And that is the main point of this post…that we get into thought patterns that are often inaccurate or even harmful.

Now here is Lovett’s article:

Going barefoot isn’t just for strolling on the beach: Running barefoot reduces stresses on your feet and may prevent injuries known to afflict traditionally shod runners, a new study says.

In his bestselling book Born to Run, Christopher McDougall revealed that the best long-distance runners on the planet may be Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians, who race barefoot or in thin sandals through the remote Copper Canyons of Chihuahua state.

The new study used high-speed video and a bathroom scale-like device called a force plate to digitally dissect the moment-by-moment stresses on the feet of 63 runners as they ran barefoot.

The research revealed that running barefoot changes the way a person’s feet hit the ground.

Runners in shoes tend to land on their heels, so sports shoe makers have spent years designing footwear with gels, foams, or air pockets in the heels to reduce the shock of impact.

But barefoot runners more often land on the forefoot, near the base of the toes. This causes a smaller part of the foot to come to a sudden stop when the foot first lands, allowing the natural spring-like motion of the foot and leg to absorb any further shock.

“This form of landing causes almost no collision force,” lead author Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, said in an email.

Not that the benefits of barefoot running should be a surprise, he added: “Humans were able to run for millions of years without shoes or in just sandals. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,