Running Barefoot Pros And Cons
What are some running barefoot pros and cons that you should consider before giving up the athletic shoes? Interest in barefoot running has grown in recent years with groups on both sides of the barefoot running safety debate citing supporting experts and studies. What are the possible risks and benefits of running barefoot?
What are some of the pros of running barefoot?
Running barefoot decreases the environmental impact of running. Supporters of running barefoot cite less production and resource usage in the manufacturing of athletic shoes as well as less natural resource damage by runners venturing off running paths and trails as a positive aspect of the sport.
Running barefoot is more natural. After all, supporters note that humans ran without shoes or in minimal foot coverings for centuries. Supporters believe that running without artificial padding and engineered shoes allows the individual runner to develop and create a more natural, safer stride.
Barefoot runners are more satisfied runners. In many cases, runners report a higher degree of satisfaction and enjoyment from running without shoes. Some indicate a closer connection to nature; others cite the need to be more aware of surroundings while barefoot as positive contributors to running satisfaction.
Running barefoot decreases injuries. Certain injuries are reported reduced in barefoot runners versus shod counterparts. This is largely attributed to changes in stride and heel striking.
What are a few of the cons of running barefoot?
Running barefoot is not natural to many runners. For runners having grown up wearing shoes consistently, they are trained to run in shoes. Running shoes alter strides and landing points. Running barefoot requires re-training and a transition period to avoid injury.
Barefoot running may decrease some injuries—but, increases the risk for other injuries. Research may indicate a decrease in certain types of foot injuries. However, opponents to barefoot running believe that the runners will see an increase in other injuries not currently experienced—especially without proper training and conditioning.
Running in bare feet increases the risk of physical injuries and wounds. Shoes serve as protection to the foot from rough terrain and foreign objects, such as broken glass or sharp stones. Runners increase risks of cuts, punctures, scrapes and potential infections by opting to run without shoes.
How do you weigh the pros and cons of running barefoot?
A runner must evaluate all of the research on an individual basis—and consider the costs and benefits of the activity based on his own situation and long-term goals. It is important to understand that research into both the short term and long term pros and cons of running barefoot is ongoing and often conflicting. To ensure that you are making an informed decision based on your individual health and needs, discuss barefoot running with an athletic trainer or your health practitioner as part of the decision making process.