Barefoot running is a trend that has only recently regained popularity. Whether you jog recreationally or train for marathons, you may wonder whether the risks of barefoot running are worth the rewards.
If you are considering a jog without footwear, you should understand that barefoot running is significantly different than the sort of running you’re used to.
While this may seem a common-sense statement—on the one hand, you’re wearing shoes, and on the other, you’re not—there is actually a significant difference between the two forms.
Running Without Shoes Changing How Your Body Moves
Runners who wear shoes tend to take longer strides—and when they put their feet down, it’s usually heel-first. Since your shoes offer padding and protection, they help your feet withstand the greater force associated with heel-first strides. But if you were to run barefoot for the first time, you’d likely notice your heels hurting after only a few paces. To comfortably adjust, you’d have to decrease the distance between steps and hit the ground with the front of your feet before the heels. This changes how your body allocates its weight and pressure, as well as its propensity to sustain or avoid certain types of injury.
While barefoot running may have some arguable benefits, whether you should try it yourself is a question of not only personal preference but environment and individual preparedness.
Considerations for Beginners
If you’re thinking about losing your shoes on your next jog, first consider:
- Recalibrating your running routine—if you’re not used to barefoot running, don’t try to jog as long or far as you’re used to. Your muscles and feet will need time to adapt.
- Whether you have a safe, comfortable place to run. Even seemingly safe spaces, like a grassy stretch of park, can contain hidden hazards, like broken glass or pointed rocks.
- If you’ve had any prior foot injuries, such as fractures or tendon tears. Running barefoot may relieve pressure on your heel, but it can make you more liable to sustain other injuries.
Although running barefoot has some—dubious—advantages, it isn’t something you should leap into overnight, especially if you have concerns about your health and fitness. Some podiatrists have opined that barefoot running may reduce knee pain, while bolstering the chances of developing Achilles tendonitis or metatarsal stress. There is also a moderate to high probability you could develop painful blisters too.
Don’t Run Without Shoes If You Aren’t 100% Sure of Your Feet
Before you begin running barefoot, you should speak with your podiatrist. While few podiatrists encourage barefoot running, they have the tools and expertise to help keep your feet happy no matter how you run or jog.
An experienced podiatrist can appraise your overall foot-and-leg fitness and may be able to determine if going barefoot poses a risk to your well-being. If you’re thinking about running barefoot, or think you have a related injury, send us a message or give us a call today.