Top Ten Benefits of Running Barefoot
By Rick Morris
I really love barefoot running. It give me a whole new sense of freedom and enjoyment when I run. But that isn’t the only benefit of barefoot running. Here are out top ten benefits of running barefoot.
Avoid Shin Splints
Of all the benefits of running barefoot, injury prevention is one of the most valuable. Wearing supportive running shoes is like putting a cast on your foot. They don’t allow your lower leg muscles to work the way they are intended to. As a result your lower leg muscles become weak and injury prone, which can cause shin splints. Running barefoot will let your foot and lower leg muscles do their job properly. It will strengthen those muscles in your leg and help you avoid shin splint injuries and also knee and hip injuries.
Stop Plantar Fasciitis
Another of the benefits of running barefoot is the prevention of another common foot injury. Plantar fasciitis, an overuse injury to the thick, fibrous band that runs along the bottom of your foot. Wearing over supportive running shoes removes much of the stress from your plantar fascia, which isn’t always a good thing. Your muscles and connective tissues need some stress in order to grow stronger. Barefoot running will strengthen your plantar fascia and help you avoid this common and sometimes chronic running injury.
Running barefoot puts your foot, ankle and lower leg through their full and natural range of motion. Your lower leg muscles will get functionally stronger and more injury resistant. You will become a stronger, fitter runner and your performance will improve.
Run More Efficiently
Running in shoes tends to encourage an improper running stride with both over striding and heel striking. Both of those stride mistakes will decrease your performance and efficiency as well as contribute to running injuries. On the flip side, one of the benefits of barefoot running is that it encourages a natural and efficient flat footed or ball of your foot first landing directly under your center of gravity. That type of foot strike promotes a high cadence and running mechanics that are much more efficient and will improve your running efficiency and performance.
No More Black Toes
Don’t you just hate those sore, black toes you sometimes get after a long run or race? That common running problem is usually caused by your toes hitting the front of your shoes on each stride. There’s one very easy way to avoid black toes – run barefoot! No impact on your toes means no more black toes.
An important and often ignored part of training is balance or proprioceptive training. Improving your proprioception requires strengthening your core muscles and the stabilizing muscles in your lower leg as well as increasing your ability to “feel” your stride and the terrain beneath your feet. Barefoot running will help you improve all of those abilities. Barefoot running will improve your core strength, build the strength of those all important stabilizing muscles in your lower leg and give you a better feel for the terrain.
This one is a no brainer. Running shoes are expensive. Doing at least part of your running in your bare feet will save you loads of money on running shoes.
Increased Sense of Freedom
Everyone enjoys a sense of freedom. There is nothing like the sense of freedom you feel when you shed your confining running shoes and let your feet run free. Try running through some soft and dewy grass first thing in the morning. You may never wear shoes again.
Be Blister Free
Blisters are one of the most annoying and painful running injuries that could be completely eliminated by running barefoot. Blisters on your feet are caused by friction between your skin and your running shoe. Even properly fitted shoes can cause painful and performance sapping blisters on your feet. Kick your shoes off and you can avoid this annoying injury.
A New Challenge
You’ve set a marathon PR, finished a triathlon and completed your first ultra marathon. Now what? Do you need a new running goal? How about doing a barefoot 5K or 10K. Maybe even run a marathon barefoot! Talk about bragging rights! Running barefoot can supply you with an entire new series of goals to keep your running fresh and exciting.