The Effects of Barefoot Running
Barefoot Running is becoming more and more popular although I have to admit that I am not yet tempted to try it out for myself. There are those for and those against barefoot running and I can understand the arguments from both sides so…I have definitely got splinters in my backside on this subject as I am neither for nor against it.
If you haven’t guessed already, the whole idea of this site is to deal with the problem of shin splints or, to be more exact, how to get rid of them, therefore It would be irresponsible of me not to write about running barefoot, especially as there are those who believe that barefoot running will alleviate the pain experienced with fallen arches as well as problems like plantar faciitis, runner’s knee and, of course, shin splints.
Firstly, as I have already stated, I have not been ‘turned’ to barefoot running, so the information I will provide below is not based on my personal experiences but it has been gathered from sources that I trust, so make of that what you will!
What is Barefoot Running?
I will avoid all the hype about ‘going back to our roots’ and leave that to those who come over as barefooted evangelists! What I will tell you is that there are two distinct variations of running barefoot…true barefoot running (without shoes) and minimalist running (wearing footwear with very little protection and padding).
Why Run Barefoot?
Running barefoot dramatically alters the way we run. In padded running shoes more impact goes through the heel and the back of the foot whereas when running barefoot the lateral edge of the leading foot strikes first.
Many believe the change in running form from running shoes to barefoot is healthier for your feet and greatly reduces injuries such as plantar faciitis (heel strike) and shin splints. However, those opposed to barefoot running argue that there is little in the way of research to back up these claims and even less to say barefoot running is actually easier on your body than running in shoes.
The overriding factor as I see it, and this is only my opinion, is that barefoot running is how our ancestors ran and therefore doesn’t require evidence to back it up, whereas there is no scientific research to back up the claims of specialist running shoe companies that their designs are the better option so… the ball is in their court!
The vast majority of running injuries, including shin splints, are caused by bad running form with heel strike in particular being one of the main protagonists. Therefore I would have to conclude that running barefoot or at least running in minimalist footwear would definitely reduce cases of plantar faciitis, over pronation , and to some degree, shin splints.
The Transition from Running Shoe to Barefoot
This is my personal stumbling block, especially as I already know how to get rid of shin splints permanently, and have never had a problem with pain in my heels. Therefore, because I’m running pain free and without any problems I don’t feel enough of a pull to make this transition myself, however…you may want to give it a try!
The other factor that should be considered is that there will be some pain and discomfort, and possibly injuries, during the transition because your running technique will go through a dramatic change and you will also be using muscles in your feet that you have never used before. If you think about it, the majority of us have been wearing shoes since we took our first tentative steps, the vast majority of those steps having been made on a flat surface…it is therefore wise to presume that there will be a painful learning curve for our bodies if we simply switched from one to the other overnight.
In other words…if you feel like barefoot running is something you want to try, do so wisely and tentatively, easing your transition to a more natural running style.
If you are determined to try barefoot running or to go ‘minimalist’ then perhaps checking out these running shoes below may be useful to you.
Filed under: Running Without Shoes
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!