Barefoot Running: Healthy or Risky?
On the surface, it seems like a great idea: run barefoot instead of with shoes to produce a more “natural” stride. After all, humans were designed to run and walk on bare feet.
While some runners go all out and don’t wear shoes at all, others use what are known as minimalist shoes that are designed to duplicate a barefoot experience while still offering some protection. This “barefoot running” trend has become popular in recent years, but is it really good for you?
Risk of Injury
Any physical activity can carry a risk of injury, but some say barefoot running is a particular problem for those who don’t know how to properly adapt to running without adequate shoe support. Although proponents say barefoot running can strengthen muscles and reduce injury, this has not been proven.
Recent studies suggest that barefoot running is not all it’s been touted to be, and isn’t for everyone. People with past foot injuries and diabetes, for instance, should steer clear. Obviously, running without shoes raises the risk of wounds to the feet, which can become serious if left untreated. For those who are used to running with shoes, suddenly ditching footwear can be a painful experience. Running experts say you must change your stride to land more evenly on the entire foot, rather than hitting the ground heel first.
What Podiatrists Say
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) says due to lack of evidence about the safety and risks of barefoot running, people should consult with a podiatrist who has a background in sports medicine. He or she can examine your feet, discuss health history, and recommend a safe way to get your miles in. For some, barefoot running may be a possibility. But the health of your feet should always be a priority, no matter what style of running or exercise you enjoy.
Trying Barefoot Running
Despite possible risks, many people are interested in trying barefoot running. If you decide to move forward, take these steps to avoid injury:
- Always see your podiatrist before starting any new running program.
- Try indoor barefoot running on an indoor track or your home treadmill before running outside.
- Wear minimalist shoes when running outside to protect feet from bacteria, fungi, and injuries.
- Allow minimalist shoes to dry out completely between runs to avoid odor and fungus.
- Run on soft surfaces such as grass instead of pavement.
Going barefoot doesn’t have to be forbidden all the time. Certain activities such as stretching, yoga, and strength training workouts can – and should – be done in bare feet. Be aware, however, that bare feet in public places like showers and bathrooms can set you up for athlete’s foot and other infections. Wear flip flops or other slip on shoes in public showering areas to help avoid this.
A podiatrist is your partner in keeping your feet healthy for life. Contact the office of Jeffery LaMour, DPM today!
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!