Barefoot running has been around since the beginning of humankind. But things that instantly dominated the running landscape are the recently phenomenal-hit running-specific shoes. Today, barefoot running is becoming popular again. A lot of runners sure are in search of an answer to what type of shoe would stop them from foot pain, leg pain, or any other kinds of pain, or if they should wear minimalist shoes or no shoes at all.
Barefoot running is simply running without shoes. It is also known as minimalism or natural running. However, there are runners who are running on almost barefoot, wearing thin-soled shoes. This may be termed as minimalist running. Minimalist running cause biomechanical factors that mimic barefoot running and the shoes present some particular qualities such as high flexibility, lightweight, etc.
The shoes which these runners wear can be minimalist shoes or barefoot shoes. Barefoot shoes provide the closest feel to running truly barefoot but its soles provide the bare minimum in protection from potential hazards on the ground. On the other hand, minimalist running shoes is a combination of barefoot shoes and traditional running shoes which are lightweight compared to traditional shoes and provide an excellent way for most runners to ease into barefoot running.
Barefoot runners and minimalists argue barefoot running can correct a runner’s form and foster a forefoot strike, which can result in fewer running injuries compared to those who run with a heel strike.
Minimalist Shoes vs. Running Shoes
Barefoot/Minimalist running enthusiasts say that our body is evolved for shoeless locomotion. Covering up one of our most sensitive, flexible parts distorts our natural stride and prevents foot muscle development.
Through the years, athletic footwear companies produce bigger and more protective shoes. It has been said that these traditional running shoes lead runners to carelessly land on a heavily cushioned heel and they weaken the feet, making runners unable to run the way people naturally meant to.
Traditional runners point many advantage in wearing shoes. Developments in footwear can prevent flawed running tendencies such as overpronation (ankle rolls inward with each stride) which can lead to injuries such as shin splints.
If you’re accustomed to traditional running, switching to barefoot running requires dramatically altering your stride, which more likely results in other injuries. More importantly, shoes protect the feet from harmful debris such as broken glass and nails.
“If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”
Right now, there is no conclusive evidence that barefoot running is better than shod running in a healthy individual. A 2013 study concludes that if the shod runner is not injured, they should follow the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If you’re just fine with your current running shoes or non-existing shoes, there’s no need to change. If you want to switch your running style, ease into it. Make sure you are comfortable with your choice. It is also recommended to talk to a sports physiotherapist before you switch your running style, especially if you’ve had history of injuries or foot problems.
There is no ideal type of running shoe or whether it is better running on barefoot or with shoes. If you’re not careful what’s on or what’s not on your feet, you’ll encourage onset of injury. At the end of the day, preventing injuries and achieving the best performance is a function of training and good running technique.
If you are torn between barefoot running and traditional running, go talk to a Perth physiotherapist to help you make a choice. Call us today at 9444 8729!