Benefits Of Running Barefoot
Why You Should Run Barefoot
There is something absolutely blissful about running around barefoot. As kids, we probably had our parents constantly yelling at us to put our shoes on when we were playing outside. Our parents had the best intentions. After all, bare feet in an unknown area could result in injury. Kids don’t think of the possibility of stepping on a sharp stone or broken glass.
Even so, some health experts say that running barefoot is quite beneficial for a number of reasons. If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to go nuts and run like a child again, here are some reasons to start running barefoot, whenever you get the chance.
1. Strengthen Your Muscles
Did you know that by running barefoot, you can strengthen the muscles in your feet? Running barefoot is great for strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your feet as it promotes a natural gait. Without being forced into an unnatural position with the heel, even a slight one, and cramped on all sides, even if you are wearing running shoes for wide feet, your feet can move as they were meant to and strengthen those parts that don’t normally get much attention.
2. Boost Recovery From Injury
If you’ve had to take a break from running due to injury, running barefoot can actually speed up the recovery process. Your therapist may recommend you switch your regular running shoes with barefoot running shoes. That’s because regular running shoes can put a strain on your ankles, including the ligaments and tendons. By running with barefoot running shoes, your feet can move naturally and this will help you recover without losing valuable exercise time.
3. Learn How To Land
Modern running shoes encourage the runner to land on their heel due to added padding. While this may be of some benefit when pounding on hard surfaces, this method of running is not considered to be a natural running stride. In barefoot running shoes, or completely barefoot, the runner is encouraged to land on the forefoot. This allows your arches to activate and act as natural shock absorbers. It will also give you a more fluid stride which will make your running more effective.
4. Better Running Economy
Running economy refers to the amount of energy expended during running. This is determined by measuring the amount of oxygen needed for the type of running the athlete is engaging in. By running barefoot, you need less energy and oxygen so your running economy is a lot better. You’ll get more out of your run, without overstraining yourself. So set your neutral running shoes aside and start running!
5. Running Barefoot Is Better For Your Balance
Running barefoot helps you improve your balance as your feet are in total control, without being hindered by footwear. It also helps you to connect with the surface you are running on better. Whether you choose to run on grass, concrete or sand, you can completely free your toes and let all thoughts out of your head, except for the feel of your feet on these surfaces.
6. Feel Like You’re Flying
By kicking off your shoes to go for a run, you’ll feel like you’re flying. Running with traditional running shoes results in a heavy gait. For one, you can’t run naturally and, secondly, most running shoes have thick heels and soles so they way you down. Running with light barefoot running shoes, or none at all can be very liberating. Try running barefoot on an empty football field, or at the beach, and feel the freedom.
7. You’re More Likely To Run Outdoors
Running on a natural surface like grass, sand or soil feels amazing. Sure, you can run on a treadmill in any weather, but you’re missing out on fresh air and sunshine. Running barefoot connects you better with your natural surroundings. You’ll feel the grass or sand as you’re running and it may even be a reason for some unabandoned joy. If you see a mud puddle, get your feet dirty and jump in. It may seem childish, but it will let your inner child out to play for a while, which is great for your mental health.
8. No More Rough Heels
Dry and cracked heels are itchy and annoying. You can buy pumice stones, foot files, foot mask peels and dozens of lotions and potions to get soft, supple heels. However, if you live near the sea, you can replace all of these for free. Running barefoot on sand is a great way to remove dead, dry skin cells from the bottom of your feet and you can run through the water as well, to wash off the debris and energize your feet with the mineral-rich seawater. If you don’t live near the sea, find a local playground with sand and go for a run. Take a break by sitting on the swings and rubbing your feet through the sand.
9. No More Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is basically a form of repetitive strain injury in your feet. It occurs when the fibrous tissue along the bottom of your feet becomes inflamed. This tissue connects your heels to your toes so when it becomes inflamed, it’s difficult to walk without feeling pain. By running barefoot, you place less strain on the plantar tendon. The less strain on this tendon, the less likely the fibrous tissue will flare-up. If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, running barefoot is a great way to lessen the pain and recover faster.
10. Increase The Circulation In Your Feet
One of the reasons seasoned runners often feel pain after the long run is that the circulation to their feet is impaired. Running shoes may offer great support to feet and ankles, but you need to secure them properly to reap these benefits. That tightness will, inevitably, limit the free flow of blood from circulating in your feet. By running barefoot, or with barefoot running shoes, your feet are freer and so is the oxygenated blood that is flowing.
There is no doubt, that running barefoot is beneficial. The best way to reap the benefits is to choose the right location for running without shoes. Choose a well-grassed football field or a nice sandy beach. If you’re worried about running barefoot, get yourself barefoot running shoes and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Is barefoot running better for the body?, Stanford Medicine