Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is Barefoot Running The Ideal Way? by George Hutton

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.

Most people held to the belief that it was obviously better to run with shoes. That is until Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic marathon without any. That's the way he trained, and that's the way he ran. It posed the question: Could running without any shoes actually be better than running with shoes? Are shoes an extra thing that we really don't need?

By studying how people run, scientists have discovered that people run differently with and without shoes. Not the same person, mind you. Somebody who has run barefoot for quite a while will have a completely different gait than somebody who is used to running with shoes. The shoe runner generally lands on the heel first, and the rolls over to the ball of their foot.

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.

The two main drawbacks to running barefoot are both related to time. Since changing the way you run takes considerable time and concentrated effort, it can be a while before your running as far and as fast as you are with your running shoes. It also takes time to develop the necessary calluses in order to protect you from sharp pointy things you may come across on the ground.

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.