Monday, October 11, 2010

The Barefoot Running Debate

There seems to have been a large barefoot running movement as of late, but it still isn't a widely recognized form or jogging or racing.  The experiments that have been done to determine the effectiveness of barefoot running to reduce the incidence of injuries (or enlarge them) have been inconclusive or widely rejected by the medical community.  Without one tested and proven option over the other, an individual should know the arguments for and against barefoot running, and then decide for themselves.  Below I have outlined the different arguments.  They do not necessarily reflect my personal opinions.

Pro-Barefoot Running
Since the beginning of human history we have been running barefoot.  Natural selection has given us, over millions of years, an evolved foot that is meant to be used without a leather cover.  Why, in light of technological advances, should we change that now?  A very unsympathetic yet effective process has given us the most effective tool for running from predators and chasing prey - the bare foot.

Running shoes induce the runner to strike the earth on their heels, creating a host of problem and reasons for injury.  When running barefoot, one will naturally land on the balls of the feet or their toes, which allows the arch of the foot and lower leg to absorb the impact blow.  Striking on the heels send the shock up to the knees and hips, which will cause such infamous injuries as shin splints.  The lower legs and arches were formulated by nature to absorb this impact - it is understandable that transferring it to other areas will cause injury.
Anti-Barefoot Running
Yes, it is true that humans were sculpted by nature with the intention of being made to run barefoot.  Yes, running shoes change the natural running motion in that they make the runner strike down with the heel.  But did nature account for asphalt, broken glass, and road debris?  No, obviously it didn't - issues such as pollution and global warming clearly illustrate that natural selection never accounted for extreme human intelligence.  Maybe barefoot running would be a viable option if the places where most runner lived weren't paved and were just happy, sunny meadows.  Sadly this is not the world we live in.  Teenagers party - glass gets broken on potential running routes.  Cars need to get places safely and fast - the ground is uncomfortably hard in the city.  Get ready for some serious blisters and cuts if you're hell-bent on becoming a bare-foot runner.

My Stance
I, in almost all cases, would choose to run with my trusty Asics Gel Pulse 2's on then going barefooted.  I mostly run at school, with my team.  High schools + teenagers = broken glass.  You can't argue with math and I don't especially like it when glass gets lodged in my skin.  Plus I'd look like a wierdo.  An exception to this is doing strides on our football field, which feels nice to do barefooted in warm weather.
Photo Credit:
In the end, the runner needs to decide for himself.  Here are the arguments, now make an informed decision.  I'd love to here what you think, so please feel free to comment!



  2. Yeah, I've seen those toe shoe things. They look pretty goofy, but I suppose they would take out the ouchies on the foot aspect.


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