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Barefoot Running

Barefoot Running

Before, people normally run without shoes on their feet. Throughout human history, running barefoot was the natural way to run, and cultures such as the Tarahumara people in Mexico still practice it today. You may think of it as harsh but according to some promoter of barefoot running, it actually reduce your risk to possible injuries like of chronic injuries (notably repetitive stress injuries) due to the impact of heel striking in padded running shoes. True or not, scientists still continues to study the risks and benefits that people can have by running barefoot.

There was a point in the year 1970s where running shoes were blamed to injuries among runners. As such, people suggested running barefoot is much better and has even relieved them from chronic injuries. Running shoes are made to protect your feet against pointed objects on the ground and offer cushion as you run. Though some may say that using running shoes are risky, the  American Podiatric Medical Association cautions would-be barefoot runners, stating that there is still not enough research on the immediate and long-term benefits of the practice, and that individuals should consult a podiatrist with a strong background in sports medicine to make an informed decision on all aspects of their running and training programs. Also, individuals with diabetes or other conditions which affect sensation within the feet are at greater risk of injury and are advised not to run barefoot.

I’ve seen it in races, marathons which barefoot runners are actually acknowledge in the event. There are also some races that offer a separate category for barefoot runners. Though it is becoming a hit among marathoners, is it really safe?  It really depends on how you land your foot when you run. Normally, barefoot runners have different running footage than those who wear running shoes. By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most runners generate when they heel-strike. With the right coordination of your foot and legs, you’ll be able to reduce the impact brought by your weight every time you run.

Personally, I really care for my feet and wouldn’t want it to be torn or injured by running barefoot. Although, since most people have tried it and there are scientific explanation for it, I do think that running barefoot is not really as dangerous as it is. You just have to watch your strides carefully to avoid pointed objects along the road. You can practice it until such time that your feet is already strong enough to withstand running 10 kilometers or more barefoot.

Or, you can opt to try barefoot shoes. These are shoes that are already sold in the market that can be very efficient for would-be barefoot runners. This is what people wore for thousands of years before the 1980s when the “modern running shoe” was invented. Shoes, such as moccasins or thin sandals, permit a similar gait as barefoot, but protect the feet from cuts, abrasion and soft sticky matter. Some modern shoe manufacturers have recently designed footwear to mimic the barefoot running experience, maintaining optimum flexibility and natural walking while also providing some degree of protection. The purpose of these “minimalist shoes” is to allow one’s feet and legs to feel more subtly the impacts and forces involved in running, allowing finer adjustments in running style.

This would be a new experience for those marathoners to challenge themselves in to doing something new in running. Just be careful for bruises.


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