I’ve heard a great deal about barefoot running in the last few years. What is your opinion on barefoot running?

Barefoot running may seem like a new trend but it really goes back to the roots of running when our ancient ancestors did not have shoes.  The foot is designed to absorb impact through the arch and mid foot.

The shoe industry went down a path early on of building shoes up thinking that more cushioning was essential to a good shoe.  This does make sense from the standpoint that we run on pavement for the majority of our races and training, which is not a natural surface for any animal.

Shoes were also built around the notion that proper running technique involved landing heel first and rolling forward onto the toes, which is not in line with how our natural shock absorbers are designed.  Shoes often detract from the foot’s ability to naturally deal with impact.  If the heel portion of the shoe is too high then it also promotes earlier contact with the heel which forces you to land heel first.

There has been a move in recent years by shoe companies to design shoes with a lower profile and less of a drop from heel to toe, which is making it easier to get back to a mid foot landing when running.

Barefoot running is not a bad thing because it forces us to land properly on our feet. BUT, it is important to exercise caution.  Remember that our ancestors did not run on pavement.  Pavement and concrete are incredibly non-forgiving surfaces and barefoot running in todays concrete jungle is not necessarily a good thing.  One other issue is that people often take things too far.  If you have been running in shoes your entire life and you suddenly start doing everything in bare feet it is a potential recipe for injury.  At B78 we do small amounts of barefoot running on soft surfaces or on Woodway treadmills.  The best thing you can do is to pick a good shoe that allows for mid foot landing and more natural foot movements.  Most quality shoe retailers will have a strong knowledge on what the right shoe is for you.  You can also watch the B78 video on how to pick the right shoe for you.

Posted in: Running