To Run or Not To Run . . . Barefoot

PROS

  • May strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot
  • Decreases ground contact with each stride
  • May improve balance and proprioception (perception and spatial orientation)
  • Activates smaller muscles in feet, ankles, legs and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination
  • Can also improve mood

CONS

  • Shoes offer more protection from ground debris such as glass, nails, rocks and thorns
  • Shoes offer insulation in cold weather and protect feet from frostbite in ice and snow
  • Switching from shoes to barefoot almost ensures blisters for the first few weeks until calluses develop
  • Switching from shoes to barefoot shocks the feet, so muscles will initially feel overworked

Running barefoot ultimately depends on the environment, weather and individual. If you have preexisting foot, ankle or knee injuries, going shoeless is not recommended. Open, grassy areas would be best for a barefoot running experience. In busier, industrial areas or in cold weather, it’s probably best to stick to shoes. Ultimately, though, it is up to the runner and his or her instincts!

 

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