Thursday, June 3, 2010

We Were Made to Run... Barefoot?!

I was flipping channels the other day and came across a show talking about the benefits of running barefoot.  As a former high school (and some of college) track athlete, this immediately grabbed my attention.  There was a professor and avid barefoot runner talking about the science behind barefoot running and why it is the way we are supposed to be running. (Say what?!) 

Photo credit: Google Images

According to him and other experts, running barefoot (or close to it) is better for your feet and lowers your risk of injury.  Studies that looked at boys in Kenya who run barefoot all the time, showed that when they ran they landed mainly on the front, or balls, of their feet.  It is no coincidence that Kenyans tend to dominate distance running.

The way that they run allows for less impact stress to be applied to the feet and legs which enables them to have much more endurance in a race and almost no injury.  It is thought that running with bulky, more cushioned shoes makes us land heel first instead which over time can cause trauma to the foot.

Many doctors and tracks coaches have tested out this theory and have agreed that running barefoot or close to it, is actually better on your feet. The professor on this television program says that he has been running barefoot for some years now and it was the best thing he could have done for his feet.  He even holds classes showing people the correct technique to barefoot running because it can be a bad experience if you do not know what you're doing. I was surprised at how widespread barefoot running has become, considering I did not even know such a thing existed.

Of course, many of us would not dare run barefoot for fear of stepping on glass and not to mention all of the other bacteria and dirt that can be found on the ground.  For this reason, many sneaker companies have now jumped on board the barefoot movement by making more minimalistic running shoes. Gone are the days of wearing those heavy running shoes-- you know, the ones with all of the padding, cushion, gel shocks and other high-tech (and rather expensive) features.
Photo credit: Google Images

After doing some research of my own, I found that Nike has an entire shoe line called the Nike Free made specifically of lightweight running shoes that will give an almost barefoot feel.  For example, the Nike Free Run+ that is made of lightweight material, flexible support and minimal seaming to give its wearers a barefoot-like feel while running. It even has a molded sockliner that imitates the curvature of the foot for greater support and comfort. 

 I am trying to get back to running about 3 to 4 times a week like I used to so I am very interested in trying the Nike Free Run+ to see if it will make my running experience more enjoyable.  This is yet another example that less is more!

Would you consider running barefoot? Have any of you tried any of the sneakers from the Nike Free line? What did you think?


  1. hell no i'm not running barefoot, but I will look into the NIKE FREE!

  2. The nike free is awesome i have two pair. My favorite running shoe is is the new balance992.

  3. The Nike Free still has an overly cushioned heel and prevents your foot from functioning like it was designed to function.

    I prefer barefoot but if you have to have something on your feet, check out the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. Just be sure to start slowly to allow your bones and other supporting structures in your feet to adjust. Think of shoes as casts for your feet. If your foot's been in a cast for your whole life, the muscles, bones, tendons, etc are going to be atrophied and weak. Take it easy and don't overdo it or you'll end up with stress fractures. That's why barefoot is best. When you're barefoot, the skin on your feet will tell you when it's time to stop. As your skin adjusts so will the other components of your foot. You'll work gradually towards your body's full capabilities as a runner.

    My .02.


  4. I am with Kelly. I LOVE MY FIVE FINGERS. I have two pairs. I could tell from one day to the next how much better I felt running in them. I used to not like running because it hurt my joints. I had NO pain when I used my five fingers (and changed the way I ran to be more like the Kenyans you described). The next day my calves were on fire. They really got a work out. It seems like it uses more muscles to run that way. Even my feet and ankles seem stronger. I wouldn't use the Nike shoe. Nothing compares to running barefoot except for using Five Fingers.


  5. Yes, I have been hearing about the five fingers shoes also. I may have to try those too!


Let me know what your thoughts are. Leave a comment!!

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