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Barefoot Running - Dangerous or Superior?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I don't often link to Mark Sisson's blog, just because I don't always have time to read it. But with this post I could not resist because he addressed a topic that is commonly misunderstood, in particular by competitive runners and I think he included all the important points.
I've been running completely injury-free for over 3 years now after starting at 47 years of age. I will never, NEVER run in traditional running shoes because my health comes before anything else.



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  • RUSSELL_40
    As a child, I never wore shoes. We developed huge calluses on our feet, which protected them from most things. Not a nail, but if I stepped on broken glass, it wouldn't pierce the calluses. So, this danger of foot injury, is mostly from something dropping on the foot, like another person stepping on it, while I played basketball.

    My brother and I used to run barefoot a lot. When my brother joined track, we would run laps together. He ran 2 miles in just under 9 minutes, but my best time was 12:44. That was because of shoes. It changed the way I ran. My brother still ran on his toes, but I ran with my heel striking first. Admittedly, he ran a lot more at 170 lbs, and he had better technique. I remember the first time seeing Michael Johnson running in the Sydney Olympics, and noting his strange running style looked like my brother used to run. The body was more upright, and the feet barely touched the ground.

    Within a year, I injured myself running, and have never taken it up again. Striking the ground with your heels at 235 lbs messes up everything below the waist. It became too painful to run. If I do run again, it would be cross-country, and barefoot. We have some races like that in our parks around here.

    Many people note that Kenyans do not use shoes( as children ), and there is a theory that this is why they run faster. Not sure if this has been proven, but we were not meant to run with our heels striking first, and running barefoot allows us to run properly.
    1605 days ago
  • BOPPY_
    Barefoot running sounds like a good idea until you step on something that hurts the bottom of your foot.

    Still, if you can run on golf course fairways (when the golfers aren't there, of course, it's great).

    However, my running days are gone. Alas.

    slowLee emoticon
    1609 days ago
    I'm not a fan of barefeet running
    1611 days ago
    Thanks for this.
    1611 days ago
    Thanks for the link! I agree that it takes time, and I think it takes more time than often is cited, for feet to adapt to barefoot or minimalist running if they've been cramped up in shoes forever. I got my first pair of minimalist shoes last summer, and was still doing my long training runs in a neutral shoe up until this fall (this spring I started racing my HMs in the minmalist shoes). I took over a year of consistent running before I did a full 30K distance in minimalist shoes, and my feet felt great afterwards. They have gotten wider at the forefoot over the last year, and are definitely stronger. I might start doing some of my shorter runs in VFFs now that my feet have changed.
    1611 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    I have changed so much after reading MDA and his book a few years back. I have always gone bare foot and hate wearing shoes indoors and do, do grounding in our yards. But never got into special shoes for outdoor walking. I am not a runner, always wanted to be, but have never got well enough to do it. So I did go get the critters and use them for walking and as well rowing as I need a good grip. I had to go to the boys department to get a good fit as I have really short toes. My body thanks me time and time again. Less back, hip, leg and foot issue. Day and night differences. So much less fatigue as well. I will miss them this winter when I am out doors freezing to death. Now to find a good warm solution for this cold ars winter. Thanks Birgit for bring this conversation here!
    1612 days ago
    I liked this article too. I was one of the people who just went right out the day I bought my Five Fingers and ran 3 miles. I did hurt myself, but it was all muscular, probably because I did it on a dirt trail and not on pavement. I learned my lesson and do advise people who ask about my shoes to break them in like I DIDN'T!

    I have actually stopped having to go to the podiatrist, wear orthotics, have cortisone shots, etc. since I switched to minimalist. My feet and ankles used to be a constant issue and they have never felt better! I actually hurt my knee and hip running one time BECAUSE of my custom orthotics and thick heeled running shoes! I had to take them off and walk back barefoot to stop the pain, and then head right to the chiropractor!
    1612 days ago
    I used to love to go barefoot. Here there are way too many thing to hurt my feet. :/
    1612 days ago
    Read this yesterday, and he makes great points. So do most of his commenters.
    1612 days ago
    Excellent article, thank you for linking to it! I agree that the devil is in the details and there should be a focus on the care taken in transition. I run in converse shoes, which is a tiny step away from barefoot, because when I first tried to take up running and was given a pair of new crosstrainer style new balance shoes I ended up developing shin splints - the large heel was encouraging me to lift my toes too high which strained the shin muscles. I'm not going for competition or speed - I'm going for comfort and ease of motion, and I found it in having less shoe underfoot.
    1612 days ago
    I protect me feet with good running shoes
    1612 days ago
    thanks Birgit
    1612 days ago
    I could see running barefoot on sand, but pavement and asphalt? I think one needs to use his or her head about this. Best wishes, Glenn
    1612 days ago
    Thank You!!
    I walk barefoot. I don't tell many people. But I've always walked barefoot! When my MS became worse I could tell people I needed to "feel" the ground in order not to fall. Which remains true. I was excited when some of those really skimpy flat, soft, athletic shoes were made. I use those in a pinch when I have to wear something on my feet. Heck I don't even wear or own socks! LOL!
    1612 days ago
    I agree sometines I RUN BAREFOOT TO BUILD UP MY FEET BEFORE SPECIAL TRAINING I agree with you enjoy your day hugz
    1612 days ago
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