Photo: Coralie Mercier (Flickr)
There has been a lot of talk about the benefits of running barefoot. This causes many people to wonder which is better, barefoot or with shoes?
Running shoes are carefully designed to cushion your feet and provide arch support and padding and all that stuff. Run without shoes and you’ll tear up your foot on rocks and pebbles.
But studies have shown that running shoes can do more harm than good. When you run wearing shoes, you tend to land on your heels. Somehow, that’s what most running shoes make us do.
But run barefoot, and you’ll naturally land on the balls of your feet. Striking the ground this way is less forceful than landing on your heel. So it’s likely that running barefoot may reduce injuries to the knee and lower back.
But you’re still smacking your foot directly on the ground, without any padding.
Wouldn’t this lead to more foot injuries?
Possibly. And, of course, it takes time to develop calluses on your feet thick enough to make barefoot running comfortable. And I suppose running in cold weather could be a problem.
So like most things in science, there’s more than one side to this story. Running barefoot may have certain advantages, but there are some pitfalls, too.