I admit it. I am a tenderfoot. I cannot walk outside without shoes on. While we do not wear shoes in our home, I feel very uncomfortable walking outdoors with no footwear on. Every little crack and speck of dirt bothers my feet. Okay. I’m a wimp! I have even been known to wince in pain when I step on an oversized rock while wearing shoes!
As a long distance runner, however, I have seen several fellow runners who enjoy this sport barefooted. As the consummate neat freak, my first reaction is, “Ew! Look how dirty the bottoms of his feet are! I would never let him walk into my home like that!” Then, I wonder how such a person can possibly run about town with no shoes on, yet still have a smile on his face that suggests the ultimate freedom and exhilaration similar to when a dog sticks its head out of the window of a moving car: “This is the life!”
While I am uncertain if I will ever try running barefoot, I wanted to do some research into this matter. Is it good for you? Can you hurt your feet, bones, and joints? Are there any benefits at all? (Will Nike pay me to say “wear running shoes?”) Through my research, I found both pros and cons. This article will point out a few ideas and theories, but in the interest of all, I would suggest you continue your research on this matter and make an informed and educated decision for yourself. This is just a short article, not a thesis dissertation, and the research on running without shoes is plentiful!
Through my studies, I discovered that when you run barefoot, it causes less collision force to your feet than when you run in cushioned shoes. Those who run without shoes typically land on the balls of their feet, or perhaps sometimes flatfooted, compared to those who prefer to run in shoes. Those folks usually land on their heels first.
While cushioned running shoes are comfortable, studies show that they can contribute to foot injuries. Scientists studying this matter have observed that barefoot runners who land on the balls of their feet create smaller collision forces than those who hit with the heel first.