Barefoot Running

barefoot running

Barefoot running was widespread for the majority of human history and is still relatively common in undeveloped populations. In competitive running virtually all modern athletes use running shoes, but a small minority of runners have achieved success running barefoot, including Olympic champions and world record holders Abebe Bikila and Tegla Loroupe, as well as Zola Budd. The biomechanics of running are changed quite significantly when shoes are used – in barefoot running, the balls of the feet strike the ground with the most force. With padded shoes more emphasis is placed on the heel and the back of the foot. Running in thin-soled, flexible shoes such as moccasins, VivoBarefoot and Vibram FiveFingers is biomechanically similar to barefoot running.

Barefoot running is experiencing a small resurgence of popularity. Its proponents believe it is healthier for feet and reduces the risk of chronic injuries, notably repetitive stress injuries due to the impact of heel striking in padded running shoes. These health claims are supported by some research and advocated by some authorities, but the research is not conclusive or widely accepted in the medical community. Barefoot running is not generally advocated by medical or sports organizations, who recommend that padded running shoes be worn, with particular consideration to foot type (type of pronation in heel strike gait).

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