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There has been a lot talk lately about the benefits of barefoot running. Some proponents will only run barefooted, citing early humans who ran with no shoes at all, and others prefer shoes that have a zero arch, allowing them to get a nearly barefooted feel of their running surface. While it has certainly gathered a lot of attention and supporters, there may be more to barefoot running than the benefits you’ve heard of. As with most forms of exercise, there are some risks to consider before adopting it as a fitness routine:
One of the first benefits of running barefoot is that it is said to make our entire foot and legs much stronger. Without having a curved sole under your feet, your body will adjust to strengthen your tendons, muscles and ligaments that are in your legs and feet. At the same time, it will also stretch your muscles. Being more flexible and having strong muscles will decrease the likelihood that you’ll sustain an injury or have any issues that could come with running with shoes.
Barefoot runners also have to run differently than those who run with shoes. While many runners in shoes will try and land on their heels, barefoot running teaches you to run on the forefront of your foot. This will have added benefits on your balance and teach you better stance and form when running.
Despite the many benefits that have been mentioned, there are some things to consider before you begin barefoot running. For example, it takes a lot to get used to, especially if you have been wearing shoes your entire life. This means that your muscles and feet will not be used to the pressure that you put on them, which could be too much stress and potentially lead to injuries. Also, untested feet are more likely to get blisters as you run on pavement or other surfaces that your feet aren’t used to.
You may also have concerns when it comes to increasing the likelihood of planter fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. If you give your body time to adjust, or wear a pair of minimalist shoes that a podiatrist recommends, you can likely avoid these issues. However, many people immediately try and push themselves without allowing for the proper adjustment period.
Is It Worth The Risk?
Barefoot running can be great for your body and is certainly something that anyone could consider adding to their physical workout routine. However, it should not be something that anyone just jumps into—rather, you should train into it using the methods recommended above. The more that you build up the leg and foot strength, the better you’ll be prepared for continuing on as a barefoot runner without the risk of getting hurt.