If you haven’t heard about it yet, running barefooted is quickly becoming one of the newest trends in running! For entertainment value, if nothing else, numerous news channels and newspapers have covered the growing phenomenon. At first glance, most people are repelled by the idea of running without shoes on. There is a stigma in our society against going barefooted, and shoe companies have done a pretty good job at convincing us that we can do everything better with a new pair of Jordan’s.
Besides, running barefooted sounds plain painful. What about glass, nails, and rocks? Well, for one, God gave us a wonderful set of apparatuses called “eyes” that we can use to look for rocks and glass. But what if I am flat footed or have bad knees? Well, the jury isn’t completely out, but several studies and lots of experience have shown that running barefoot is actually better for your joints. And if you believe that an Intelligent Designer created us, it makes sense that running barefoot, or at least with minimalistic shoes/sandals that nearly mimic going barefoot, would be good for us. Our feet and knees are amazingly designed to absorb shocks and propel us forward when given the unrestrained chance to do so. The reason our feet have more nerve endings than almost any other part of our body is to teach us how to properly walk and run. Unfortunately, since we wear shoes most of our lives, we never let our feet “teach us” how to run softly. As a result, many people incur knee and other injuries from poor running form.
Running with shoes causes most people to land heel first, which sends a significant jolt of energy directly through the knees and spine. By contrast, running barefoot promotes the tendency to land on the balls of the feet first. By landing forefoot first, the arch of the foot and the knees are activated to smoothly absorb the shock and propel the runner forward. A recently Harvard Study vividly explains the mechanics of this operation.
I have been barefoot running for about a year now. My feet and calves have gotten stronger, and I haven’t had any knee pain or shin splints (which were regular occurrences when I ran with shoes). I highly recommend tossing the shoes aside and letting your feet feel the earth (or concrete) beneath you. However, it takes some practice getting used to, and you should start out slowly. If you’re like me, your feet have been contained in shoes most of your life, and it will take them a little time to get used to the new freedom! Before you start take the time to read this “how to run barefoot” guide by “Barefoot Bob.”
Natives of North American ran barefooted or with minimal footwear up until only the last few hundred years. In our modern arrogance, we thought running barefooted or with mocassins was “primitive” and “unadvanced.” During the last 50 years the soles of our shoes have been getting thicker and thicker to lessen the jolt caused by shoe-induced heel striking, but it turns out that primal people had it right all along! Yet, even despite Nike’s attempt to put shoes on every soul, many people in the world continue to run barefooted. Kenyan runners grow up running barefoot, and they are some of the most renowned runners in the world. The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico often run upwards of 100 miles in a day with nothing but a thin pair of sandals called “huaraches.” If you run in an especially rocky area, minimalistic footware may be more comfortable than running completely barefooted. You can buy or learn how to make your own huaraches here.
Let your toes wiggle, and use the naturally water proof, advance shock absorbing feet God gave you and run!
Originally posted 2011-02-07 17:08:00.