The sport of running has seen a recent surge of athletes going shoeless. Some manufacturers have also started developing barefoot running shoes to mimic shoeless running. These shoes feature no support and minimal cushion. Instead, they are extremely lightweight and flexible to merely act as a second skin and protect against rocks, sticks, broken glass, or other sharp objects that you may find on the road. With all the technological advances that have come out to supposedly offer better support and cushioning, what is the logic behind designing a shoe that puts next to nothing under or around the foot? Shoe designers, as well as a number of athletes, coaches, and health professionals testify that running barefoot can actually be beneficial when done in moderation. Since a bare foot is not constricted in any way, a runner can have full use and range of motion of his feet.
This allows a runner to strengthen foot and leg muscles, improve balance, decrease risk for injuries, and increase agility and speed.
Running barefooted can also aid in faster after sport recovery times. Barefoot running is probably the best way to learn how to run, the correct way, because it increases our proprioception (body awareness). This is made possible by the number of nerve endings that we have access to while running barefooted that we wouldn’t normally have with the padding of a traditional shoe. In a traditional shoe, it’s easy to disregard improper running form because of all the cushion and stability that does the work for us. But run the same way barefooted as you would with shoes and you will soon find out why so many runners often develop injuries. It is both inefficient and reckless to your body. Give barefoot running some time and you will find ways to adjust your form and run more gently, precisely, efficiently, and gracefully.
You’ll also find it interesting to know that the form between a barefooted runner and elite runner is strikingly similar; knees bent, forefoot landings, short and quick strides, short and sleek upper body, forward lean. Doing just a few minutes of barefoot running a couple times per week can greatly increase the quality of your runs for the long term.If you think about it, running barefooted can make more sense than running in shoes. Just take a look at all the different foot injuries that you can develop while running in shoes; blisters, bunions, hammer toes, black toenails, fungus, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, etc.. Now think about all the times you ran outside barefooted when you were a kid.
Do you remember having any of those nasty injuries back then? I’m pretty sure your answer will be, no.
It just seems so unnatural for us to have something constricting and suffocating our feet. Our ancestors were able to travel, hunt, and flourish for thousands of years barefooted. And the world they faced back then was much more traitorous than it is today. These days, many of us can’t even get to our mailboxes without having to put something under our soles. We truly have become weaker. But it’s never too late to get back to the basics and rediscover natural running. You don’t even have to go completely shoeless these days. Barefoot trainers give you an almost shoeless experience, which is close enough. This way, you can reap the benefits of barefoot biomechanics while still getting the protection of a shoe. Below are the major barefoot running shoes that are currently available in the market.