For millions of years, humans have gone without shoes.
Before hunting tools were invented, humans would hunt animals by running them down over very long distances – they would literally run them to death!
Running/Walking Barefoot is Healthy
Spending time in your own feet strengthens the muscles is your feet and aligns your spine, which in turn helps maintain good posture and balance.
Running barefoot reduces the amount of impact stress that your lower body endures, minimizing the potential for injury normally associated with running.
Barefoot Running Could Get You Gold!
In 1960, Abebe Bikila ran the Olympic marathon in a time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 16 seconds to earn a gold medal. He did this in his bare feet.
An isolated native tribe in Mexico known to the rest of the world as the Tarahumara run ultra-marathon races lasting up to 200 miles or more and do so in bare feet or minimalistic sandals called huaraches.
These people only seem supernatural because we are so accustomed to running in shoes.
What’s so Bad About Shoes?
Selected History of Running Shoes
Before Phil Knight (the founder of Nike) invented the modern running shoe, running shoes had thin soles.
During this “Pre-Nike” era, injuries that are commonly associated with running such as runner’s knee, stress fractures, shin splints and plantar fasciitis were far less common than today.
Knight wanted to “improve” the stride of a runner by adding extra padding to the shoe.
The resulting shoes cause most runners to run with an unnatural heel-to-to stride
If you tried to run this way in bare feet, the pain would be extraordinary: the shoes block the pain, but they do not stop the impact.
The Natural Stride
Running Barefoot forces runners to stay on the balls of their feet.
The heels are almost entirely eliminated during running.
This stride significantly reduces impact and increases running efficiency.
Are There Any Footwear Alternatives?
Running barefoot can be dangerous in many modern conditions. The foot was evolved to run on softer terrain like dirt and grass, but in modern society it can be difficult to escape the endless sea of asphalt.
Rocks, broken glass, sharp rusty metal and many other dangerous obstacles may be encountered while running barefoot.
Thankfully, there are alternatives…
Thanks to the research done to support the benefits of barefoot running and its increasing popularity, some companies have designed and released different models of shoes that are designed to be minimalistic and simulate barefoot running.
Vibram Fivefingers are the closest thing out there to bare feet.
Feelmax shoes are super-thin soled minimalist running shoes
Or, you could make your own pair of huaraches!
When learning about barefoot running I became pretty obsessed with it. It really changed the way I thought about running and human kinetics.
I had always enjoyed being barefoot and would often get teased about it by family and friends. Now that I am informed about the proven benefits of being barefoot I can have something to come back at them with.
I hope that this slideshow might influence someone else to give barefoot running a try.
McDougall, C. (2009). Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Sshilke. (2010). Interesting Olympic Moments, Abebe Bikila “The Man Who Ran Barefoot”. Retrieved January 27, 2010 from http://hubpages.com/hub/Interesting-Olympic-Moments--Abibe-Bikela-The-Man-Who-Ran-Barefoot