Barefoot running is a popular and growing trend that is taking over the running and jogging community by storm. Barefoot running is exactly what it sounds like, running without shoes. However, this doesn’t just affect whether or not you need to buy new shoes, but it also affects the motion of your feet and requires an entirely different workout.
When you run with shoes on, most of the time you land on your heels, roll over the ball of your foot, and then push off with your toes. However, in barefoot running, you actually land on the front part of your feet and not your heels. The impact shifts from the heels to the front of the feet, and barefoot runners shorten their strides to create softer landings.
Barefoot running has a lot of advantages. Landing on the front of your foot with a reduced stride lessens the stress and pressure placed on the ankles and feet, which lessens the chance of injury. It also strengthens the muscles in your feet and muscles in the ankles and lower legs that are not usually worked out. Your balance is also improved and there is a greater sensory input from your feet to the rest of the body, making your motions and posture less stressful on the body.
Ironically enough, studies have shown that countries with large populations of people who do not wear shoes actually have a much lower number of those suffering from foot and ankle injuries.
Despite this, many people are still skeptical about barefoot running, and for good reason. There are some drawbacks to the unique exercise, one of the most obvious being the complete lack of protection of your feet from objects while running. Bruises, scrapes, cuts, and sometimes blisters can form on runners’ feet. Landing on the front of the feet can also cause Achilles tendonitis, or worse yet, a rip or rupture of the Achilles tendon.
But there are a lot of ways to make barefoot running safe and enjoyable. First off, make a slow transition from your normal running routine to barefoot running, do not just dive right into it one day. Once your feet begin to adjust, slowly move from jogging to running and gradually increase the distance. It is also recommended to start out on a surface that does not contain many sharp or dangerous objects, as your feet are now unprotected. Minimalist running shoes are also another great option to get you into barefoot running and provide the perfect middle ground for those looking to get into the sport.
Dr. Bruce Zappan from Medical Arts Podiatry Associates is a board certified podiatric surgeon. Dr. Bruce Zappan treats a wide range of podiatric needs from athletes foot to broken ankles and everything in between. Visit http://www.no1footcare.com/index.shtml or call (215)-563-1754
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