Is Barefoot Running The Best Way?

People have been walking, jogging, and flat out sprinting for hundreds of thousands of years. Those things we strap on our bare feet, on the other hand, have only been around for a few thousand years. If wasn’t even until relatively recently that high tech shoes with advanced designs were made available to the general public. If you are curious about the latest craze in barefoot running, then this article is for you.

Pretty much everybody accepted the seemingly common knowledge that shoes were obviously necessary for running, or else all kinds of horrible things would happen. That is until Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic marathon while running barefoot. Then people started to wonder. Was running barefoot really something that was beneficial?

Scientists that study things like bio mechanics will tell you that the way people run with shoes, and the way people run without shoes are completely different. When running with shoes, people generally land on their heel first, which causes a tremendous amount of impact and shock. Of course, this isn’t a problem with sufficiently padded running shoes.

People who are accustomed to running barefoot, on the other hand, tend to land first on the ball of their feet, and then quickly come down with their heel. The time between the ball of the foot striking the ground, and the heel landing is enough time for the calf muscle to absorb nearly all of the shock. With the calf muscle absorbing most of the impact, there’s no need for expensive running shoes that need to be replaced every six months.

There are two drawbacks to running barefoot, but only if you are first getting started. If you’ve been running with shoes for a while, then you will have to train your body to run in a different style. You will need to slowly build up your calf muscles. You’ll also need to build up the calluses on your feet, to prevent injury.

Those that have made the switch, from shoes to no shoes claim a mountain of benefits. Less injuries, much less money spent on shoes, a general feeling of running the way the body was actually designed to run. Which way is better for you? Shoes or no shoes?

If you are committed to running barefoot for the long term, and don’t mind ‘starting over’ again by changing up your running style for the long run, then you’d most likely benefit from making the change. If, on the other hand, you run occasionally, and can’t be bothered to build up your calluses or change your running style, then sticking to shoes is probably the best option.

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Statistics Compilation:
Research: One year of research for the TV Show « Vlog » at TVA (Montreal, Canada). 40 hours a week to find the best videos on the web. With my colleague Maxime Sauriol.
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Videos: 367
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Machine: iMac 5K with FCPX