Barefoot Running Pros & Cons
A thorough evaluation of barefoot running pros & cons might have you reconsider your investment in costly footwear. After all, are these shoes not designed to mimic the foot’s natural stepping motion? Why not pass the middleman and let the appendage function in a manner that nature intended? Then again, there are some detractors to the practice who make valid points.
At the top of the list of the barefoot running pros & cons—in the must-do column—is the understanding that running without the benefit of footwear does not adversely impact the runner’s edge. In fact, even competitive runners have found that they can finish races—and win—when discarding even high-end shoes that would otherwise hamper their speed or running comfort. In these cases, the shoes were actually proven to be liabilities.
When you wear something thick between the ground and the foot, you pound the land and feast your eyes on the scenery. You might actually find that running is a chore. Take away the barrier between sole and ground, and you suddenly find yourself becoming part of the action. Who needs pretty scenery when you can ‘feel’ it with each step?
There is evidence that suggests barefoot running pros & cons come in to favor the proponents. They point to the heel that naturally receives less pressure when the runner does not rely on artificial cushioning and therefore adjusts his gait to a forefoot and then mid-foot striking motion. Eliminating the foot protection also leads to less impact on hips and knees.
Potential foot injuries.
On the downside, there are lots of sharp little pebbles and plant materials that will poke your feet. If you are a novice to the sport, the soles of your feet may be so soft that it will not take much to break the skin. Seasoned runners develop calluses that protect against pointy pebbles and even the occasional piece of glass. The question here is: Are you willing to become seasoned?
Ligament and muscle pain.
If your feet are accustomed to the latest and greatest in footwear, your muscles face a learning curve when the cushions are removed. Coming down on the negative side of the barefoot running pros & cons equation, insufficient warm-ups are usually to blame. While this is due to athlete error, it bears mentioning that overdoing initial barefoot runs are also to fault. Like anything else that is new, start out slow and build up muscle memory.