There’s an almost childlike joy that comes with running barefoot. It’s something we did as children, so why not as adults? Indeed, there’s raging debate on whether this may be the best way to avoid injury. Let’s compare between running barefoot vs. shoes.
Running Barefoot vs. Shoes: Understanding the Concept
It’s important to clarify that running barefoot doesn’t mean exactly that. There are minimalist running shoes that give a more natural barefoot feel. Now, here is how the experts describe it. Traditional running shoes typically have a heel that is 22 to 24 mm off the ground, positioning the forefoot approximately 10 to 15 mm off the ground. This translates to a heel-to-forefoot differential of about 12 to 16 mm. Minimalist shoes remove the differential in what the experts call zero-drop level. They do not have a midsole, which provides adequate cushioning between the insole and the outsole.
But that aside, if we explore running barefoot vs. shoes, significant insights come up.
- Natural biometrics: Running without shoes encourages a more natural running gait. It can help strengthen tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Over time, there may be a reduction in specific overuse injuries.
- Improved sensory feedback: The ability to feel the ground directly while running barefoot improves sensory feedback. That helps with avoiding potentially harmful impacts.
- Reduced heel striking: Barefoot runners tend to land with a forefoot or midfoot, significantly reducing the impact transmitted through the body. Once again, there’s the benefit of reduced injuries such as knee pain and shin splints.
Even so, running barefoot presents some notable drawbacks, the most significant being exposure to injury-causing hazards. These include hot surfaces, sharp objects, cold temperatures, and more. All these are preventable with shoe running. With tons of shoe designs, runners are sure to find something that suits their specific needs.
Running with Shoes
Running shoes provide cushioning, support, and protection. But, there are some potential drawbacks.
- Altered biometrics: Some shoe designs comprise excessive cushioning and stability features, altering the natural running gait and causing injuries.
- Reduced sensory feedback: This is especially true for thick-soled shoes that make it harder for runners to adjust their form to avoid injury.
- Dependency: While this is arguable, some people feel that running shoes can cause a level of dependency. Over time, the cushioning and support may impact intrinsic foot muscles, increasing vulnerability to certain injuries.
Running Barefoot Versus Shoes: Consult Professionals First
The decision to run barefoot vs. shoes may be an individual preference. However, pay attention to your body. What’s more, consider your injury history, terrain, weather conditions, and running experience. A middle ground exists in minimalist shoes that perfectly balance both choices. Also, consult healthcare professionals or sports therapists for proper guidance. Make an appointment today with Foot Specialists of Birmingham. Our team of experts will advise on the best option after a careful analysis. It’s better to avoid foot injuries than to deal with the treatments.