We are all born barefooted and Olympic marathons have been won running barefoot, so there is certainly an argument in favor of running without footwear of any kind. However footwear has been around in some form or other for 10,000 years and our feet have evolved into the sort that wear footwear; for a vast majority of us running without shoes is unthinkable.
Some of the benefits of running barefoot are –
One study of barefoot running found that certain chronic aches and injuries of the foot could be reduced with barefoot running.
In fact many runners are known to resort to barefoot running in order to get relief from chronic injuries.
Wearing shoes probably weakens the small muscles in the feet, causing injury.
1. A more natural gait for running and better foot structure (particularly the arches of the feet) can be maintained with barefoot running.
According to many experts the biomechanics of barefoot running are better than when running with shoes and runners learn to land correctly on the ball of the feet rather than the heel while running (which is an improper running technique).
2. There is some evidence to show that stress on the knee joints increase with running in shoes.
3. The lack of heel lift that barefoot running provides can lengthen the calf muscle and also help the Achilles tendon.
4. It can improve body balance.
5. Barefoot running can be enjoyable and it will keep one feeling connected to the earth and the elements.
The arguments against barefoot running are also many –
1. The fact is that humans have been wearing some or other form of footwear for thousands of years and our feet have evolved in a way that needs the protection of footwear.
2. Injuries such as cuts, abrasions, blisters, puncturing of the skin are likely to occur when running barefoot since there is no protection from stones, thorns, nails and so on. Footwear also protects feet from damp, heat and cold, which is significant consideration as well.
3. Many experts argue that risk of injuries such as calf strain and Achilles Tendinitis could increase due to barefoot running.
4. According to many experts the possible benefits of running barefoot are outweighed by the risks of this practice of running without any kind of protection or cushioning of the feet. According to these experts, if there is no medical reason for going barefoot then it isn’t something that we should be doing because it could cause more harm than good.