Body Blog: Let’s Go Running…Barefoot?

Last week while I hopped on the treadmill for my afternoon jog, I looked next to me and spotted some guy wearing these. I thought it might be some sort of joke – they did look rather similar to gorilla feet, and that’s sorta funny – until I saw another guy walk in wearing similar shoes. (Or whatever you’d call them….)

I was really confused until the next day when I was catching up on my reading (PopEater, CollegeCandy, actual News, Newsfeed) and came across an article boasting the benefits of running barefoot. Which, I deduced, was what those guys were mimicing, without having to actually touch their bare feet to the nasty gym floor.

Yes, according to researchers at Harvard, the best (most beneficial and safest on your body) way to run is SANS SHOES. Though it doesn’t seem to make sense to most of us, runners who say no to their Nikes hold their feet differently, thereby making themselves less prone to injury. The study went on to find that when running without shoes, runners hit the ground with the balls of their feet first, rather than with their heels. Which is a good thing.

The conductor of the study, Daniel Lieberman, said that runners who run barefoot have an “astonishingly different strike” and that “by landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shoe runners generate when they heel-strike.”

That’s all fine and good but, um, but what about that whole pavement, dirt, sand, BROKEN JAGER BOTTLES, aspect of running barefoot???

Liberman claims that “Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot.”

A few calluses? Okay, I’ll be sure to tell my pedicurist to not remove them next time.

The upsides to running barefoot include a springier step and more engagement of your calf and foot muscles, stated the study. Another upside is a slightly improved level of control. “When you run barefoot, your body precisely engages your vision, your brain, the soles of your feet, and all the muscles, bones, tendons, and supporting structures of your feet and legs. They leap to red alert, and give you a high degree of protection from the varied pressures and forces of running.”

Downsides? Jager glass.

But seriously, people have been running barefoot since…the beginning of time? It can’t be that bad. If you do decide to shun your Shox, start by running on a slightly softer surface, such as sand or dirt trial. Otherwise, not to be outdone but running au natural, Nike has their own line of “barefoot” running shoes called Nike Free. They give you the feeling of running barefoot without the calluses. Or weird looking gorilla shoes.

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