Barefoot and Minimalist Running

Introduction

Ssshhh - don't tell anyone, but this could be the answer to a running lifetime free of injury!

Barefoot running, also called "natural running", is the act of running without footwear or very minimalist footwear. With the advent of modern footwear, running barefoot has become less common in most parts of the world but is still practiced in parts of Africa and Latin America. In some Western countries, barefoot running has grown in popularity due to perceived health benefits.

Scientific research into the practice of running barefoot has not reached a clear consensus regarding its risks or its benefits. While footwear might provide protection from cuts, bruises, impact and weather, proponents of barefoot running argue that it reduces the risk of chronic injuries (notably repetitive stress injuries) caused by heel striking in padded running shoes.

The barefoot movement has prompted some manufacturers to introduce thin-soled and flexible shoes such as traditional moccasins and huaraches for minimalist running. Products have now been supplemented by companies like Vibram Five Fingers, Vivobarefoot and even Nike.

Running Barefoot vs. Running in Shoes

The big difference is in how your foot strikes the ground.

Runners who wear shoes tend to strike the ground with the heels first. This gait, called a heel strike, generates a force up to three times the body’s weight, which can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures.

In contrast, barefoot runners land on the balls of their feet, generating less impact when their feet strike the ground.

Videos


Barefoot Running, The New York Times


Lee Saxby, Barefoot Running Coach