Should You Run Barefoot?

Should You Run Barefoot?

As a podiatrist, my answer is no. While there are barefoot running supporters who will tell you that it is more exhilarating to feel the ground on your feet, I am here to tell you that it not worth the pain that you might be inviting going bare. To prove my point, the oldest shoe was found in Armenia, and it is 5,500 years old, predating the Pyramid of Giza by a thousand years old. Even then, people realize that feet is better off being covered.

 

Barefoot Argument

Michael Warburton, who is a physical therapist and a 2:42 marathoner based in Capalaba, Queensland,  argues that running in shoes seem to increase risk of ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis. He theorize that this may be due to decreased awareness of foot position and weakening of the natural foot structure support.

Other barefoot arguments include running barefoot helps the body adapts to transfers of impact to support structures. Barefoot runners would land mid- foot, and would flex the foot at contact for a softer landing. The practice also increases strength by increasing work of the support structures.

Points to Consider

Until now, the argument is still going on between running barefoot versus with shoes on. Most of the research in Michael’s Argument are at least twenty- years old, and more research proves inconclusive. With practice and persistence, you can become a barefoot runner, but it is not without risk.

To start with, many researches show that it takes years or thousands of kilometres for the feet to become strong enough to withstand running without supportive shoes. Some researches show that there is a threefold increase of rate of injuries when a person transitions between running with shoes to running barefoot.

Who Cannot Run Barefoot

Those who have diabetes, or significant foot deformities should never try this. Diabetics have higher risk of developing sensory loss to the foot, and might not be able to feel any pain if injured. If your feet has issues with gait mechanics, then you have to wear proper shoes to support the feet as you walk or run.

If you choose to run barefoot, or with minimalist shoes, do so with proper support channels. With help and advice, you can lessen your risk of running injuries and train yourself to become a barefoot runner. But my advice is run with proper supportive shoes, as they also provide protection against things that may pierce your skin and cause injury.

Choosing the Shoe For You

If you are at a loss on how to select the correct shoe for your activity, here is a video about how you should look for the correct shoe that will support your running.

Research
Daumer M, Kleinmond C, Stolle C, Lederer C, Hilgers M, Walther M. (2014) Overload injuries in barefoot/minimal footwear running: evidence from crowd sourcing. PeerJ PrePrints 2:e250v1 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.250v1