For thousands of years, we have been running barefoot. The caveman did not have shoes. There is no evidence indicating the availability of shoes or any kind of footwear in the Paleolithic era. Even today, millions of people practice barefoot running, many out of compulsion and many out of choice.
Given the fact we are told barefoot running is bad by big brands and even by some doctors, are we only supposed to run when we have appropriate shoes on? Here is a brief assessment of barefoot running pros and cons so you can safely decide.
List of Pros of Barefoot Running
1. Stronger Legs
There is clinical and scientific evidence inferring that barefoot running strengthens the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the foot. Barefoot running stretches the heel and hence strengthens the Achilles tendon. Barefoot running also strengthens the calf muscle.
2. Natural Gait
Since one is running unaided and naturally, barefoot running facilitates natural gait. While everyone tends to support the highly advanced shoes and everyone blames the sedentary lifestyle for all our physiological problems, one must wonder if there is indeed no correlation between postural problems and our footwear.
3. Reduced Injuries
With stronger muscles, ligaments and tendons, stronger calf muscle and Achilles tendon, there is substantially reduced risk of Achilles tendinitis and calf strains. When people run wearing special footwear, from normal sneakers to jogging shoes, there is increased padding and people tend to land on their heel to have a proper gait and to feel a thrust. The padding doesn’t allow one to feel the landing very easily so one exerts the force onto the heel and then regains the running gait.
This act increases the risk of injuries. With barefoot running, more people will start to land gently on the forefoot only to carry on the natural gait while running. If you have seen the likes of Usain Bolt or Justin Gatlin running then you must have noticed how light they are on their feet and how they use their forefoot and not their heels.
4. Naturally Healthy
Barefoot running will compel the various parts of the body to do what they are supposed to do. The arches will act as shock absorbers, which they are anyway. One would have better balance. The ignored smaller muscles in the feet and legs would be strengthened.
List of Cons of Barefoot Running
1. Lack of Ideal Running Surfaces
Grassy plains are the best for barefoot running. How many people get access to natural grassland that too properly manicured and without any hard or sharp object, natural or manmade, on the way?
2. Difficult Switch and Side Effects
It takes time to adapt to barefoot running. Not everyone will be comfortable. There is the risk of getting injured by rocks, stones, glass, thorns and nails. Modern roads and pavements are not fit for barefoot running. Prolonged barefoot running will cause blisters and toughen the skin.