So lately I have been asked by MANY my take on barefoot running. I simply say that it is only a small part of a big puzzle. Yes, some can and will run barefoot and get away with it. While others, will try and end up injured. And there will be others that just can’t and should not attempt to run barefoot. I think the main problem with this “new” avenue is that we live in a all or nothing world and simply replacing your running shoes with bare feet or the Vibram 5 Fingers is not the smartest decision. I think that barefoot running has its place in a well-rounded running program that also includes functional strength, balance, flexibility, mechanics work, and obviously running. But it should not be a replacement only an addition. I think there is some evidence of injury prevention from strengthening the foot by using the foot in it’s natural movement and I think that by wearing orthodics and overly structured shoes we can weaken our feet. However, very few runners are mechanically efficient enough to be able to run all their mileage barefoot or in a minimalistic shoe.
I do believe shoes are a bit over-designed. As a past Manager and Owner of a specialty running retail store I had many opportunities to study, learn, and attend shoe reviews and presentations from Reps in the business. Designers are constantly trying to add to the shoe and I do think that can mess with natural mechanics and at times take good mechanics and ruin them. That is why I think that runners should have their gait analyzed (and work on the mechanics and strength side of things) by a PT or a place like Froedtert Sports Medicine .
Do I plan to incorporate barefoot running into my program? Yes, but only as a means of correcting mechanical issues and becoming more efficient in my movement. This will only be a extremely small % of my training and probably won’t exceed 1/4 mile within any workout. So yes, some 50-100 meter strides possibly, some high knee skips/butt kicks/carioca yes, long mileage on the roads NO. Do I own a pair of those crazy looking 5 finger shoes YES. However they are used for walking at this point only and some functional strength and balance training. Yes, I do see a benefit in doing balance/core/lower body strength training sans shoes but I DO NOT recommend taking your mileage and running barefoot. It is just not worth the risk.
Happy Runs 🙂