Barefoot Running: Bad or Beneficial?
Barefoot running is self-explanatory; it entails running without any shoes on. Many claim that the benefits of barefoot running surpass the benefits of running with shoes; whereas others feel the exact opposite. While it’s true that there are certain benefits of running barefoot, there are also some risks associated with this type of running.
Benefits of Barefoot Running
After an hour of high intensity running, one often faces many injuries. These injuries are mostly due to the heel lift of the shoes. Barefoot running reduces the risk of such injuries. Not only that; barefoot running helps stretch and lengthen the calf muscles which aids in avoiding common running injuries like calf pulls.
Different studies suggest that barefoot running plays a key role in strengthening the feet! How does it do that? Barefoot running helps in strengthening foot muscles, tendons and ligaments. Stronger feet also lead to lesser injuries which would enhance your workout experience.
Developing Running Stride
While running and wearing shoes, we often find ourselves landing on the heels rather than the forefoot. This is because of the heels attached to the shoes and also the excessive padding on the shoes. A more natural running stride is one where the runner lands on the mid foot or forefoot. This enables the runner to run smoothly and the arches of the feet are natural shock absorbers.
If you wish to improve your balance, then running barefoot is a very good idea! Running barefoot engages most of the small muscles of the hips, ankles, legs and feet which aids in improving the overall balance and coordination. This further leads to lesser injuries!
Another benefit and the reason why people have started to get in to barefoot running is because it is extremely comfortable. Running barefoot in the park gives you a good feeling and helps you feel more connected to the environment.
Risks of Barefoot Running
Shoes provide protection against road debris like glass, nails and rocks. Not wearing shoes makes us more vulnerable to injuries caused by this debris. Shoes are essential during the winter period; not wearing shoes can lead to frostbites!
Increased Risk of Calf Strain
Even though barefoot running helps in reducing the risk of some injuries, it also is the cause of some injuries. People who aren’t used to running barefoot usually feel more tired and their feet muscles feel overworked, this leads to injuries such as calf strain.
One of the most common problems that barefoot runners come across is blisters! With shoes, the risk of getting blisters is low. Whereas when you shift to barefoot running you will find yourself suffering from blisters more often.
Plantar surface or the bottom of the feet; is the most delicate part of our feet, which is more vulnerable to injuries as compared to other parts of the feet. Running barefoot can increase the risk of suffering from plantar pain.
Is Barefoot Running Worth The Risk?
After studying about the health benefits and health risks associated with barefoot running, the question arises; is barefoot running worth the risk? Well if you are a nature lover and if you wish to not only improve your balance but also reduce the risk of some types of injuries then barefoot running is what you need! However, if you fear that you will look strange running barefoot, stick to normal running.