Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More Science Supports Barefoot Running

The latest study on running barefoot or with minimal footwear is a compelling argument against wearing standard running shoes:
Barefoot Running: How Humans Ran Comfortably and Safely Before the Invention of Shoes
"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike," says Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and co-author of a paper appearing this week in the journal Nature. "By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike. Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world's hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot. Further, it might be less injurious than the way some people run in shoes."  Harvard University. "Barefoot Running: How Humans Ran Comfortably and Safely Before the Invention of Shoes." ScienceDaily 1 February 2010."

My skepticism about barefoot running has been based on the fact that although shoes aren't natural, neither is pavement, and one might be needed to compensate for the other.  This study completely refutes that objection.

The authors have an extremely informative and readable website on the topic, with lots of details and suggestions.  I haven't run for many years because it was too hard on my body.  Maybe it is time to start- at least I won't need to buy shoes.

Being a massage therapist, I'll add one more perspective to the mix- If you start barefoot running, please take extra time to clean and care for your feet before you get a massage or any other service where someone may be handling them.  The reason is obvious.  On the plus side, it also occurs to me that with the feet getting aired out instead of being stuffed into shoes, plus getting a good exfoliation from the sidewalk, feet which might otherwise smell will actually improve in the hygiene department.

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