Barefoot runners are the most unconventional runners that there can be. One may wonder over the necessity of barefoot running, especially with the advent of high-performance running shoes that offers enhanced endurance and comfort. For most people, it is almost impossible to think about running without shoes, and not many people would like the idea of barefoot running shoes either. But statistics and studies suggest differently, let us delve deeper into this topic and find out what exactly is barefoot running and if there is any merit in barefoot running.
Before Going Ahead, Let’s Understand Barefoot Running Shoes
Meant for the extreme runners, these shoes essentially are of different categories and designs. They are all lightweight, light-padded, and flexible. The sole purpose of barefoot running shoes is to protect the feet from injuries that one might encounter while running barefoot. Barefoot running shoes strive to provide as close an experience as possible to barefoot running while ensuring that the stride is not compromised at all.
Pros of Barefoot Running:
1) It all starts with how you strike the ground
It is observed that runners with high-performance running shoes are likely to hit the ground first with their heels. This causes a massive surge of force, which has been measured to be about three times the full body weight. This surge of force results in injuries to the heels, muscle fibers, stress fractures etc.
On the contrast, while running barefoot, it is the ball of the feet that hit the ground first, negating the chances of aforementioned injuries.
2) Better alignment while running
Running barefoot ensures better alignment of the legs. This results in negating the chances of injuring the knee joints and related muscle strains. Many runners experienced a sharp pain in their knee after a long-running stint, something which quickly disappeared once they took off their shoes and continued with their running.
3) Marked difference in braking and strides
Running barefoot ensures better braking and stride quality. It has been observed that the stride frequency while running barefoot was much higher than while running with shoes and at the same time, the stride length was lower when compared to running with shoes on. Combined with more effective braking, this makes barefoot running a stronger case than running with shoes.
Cons of Barefoot Running:
1) Barefoot running can be hard on your soles
Unfortunately, the roads are not how our feet would like them to be. They can be hard, with occasional pebbles and small pieces of cut stones, concrete particulates etc. We can imagine the kind of impact such substances would have on the soles of our feet, which happens to be soft by nature. This might lead to injuries and infections as well.
2) Might initially cause the hells and the calf muscles to succumb to strains
While it is important to mention that barefoot running actually strengthens the ankles and calf muscles along with all the other muscle fibers of the leg, it should also be mentioned that this might lead to adverse effect at the beginning.
Running barefoot for the first few months will result in increased strain to the calf muscles and ankles which might even lead to symptoms like Achilles tendinitis
3) It provides no foot protection at all
Whether be it heat or snow, our feet are susceptible to both frostbite (due to snow) and blisters (due to heat). In addition, there are a hundred different ways to injure our toes, nails and the overall foot while running. This might result in excruciating pain and discomfort. Running barefoot exposes us to such possible circumstances.
Running barefoot has its pros and cons. The most effective solution is to find the perfect balance between running barefoot and running with shoes on. The answer is barefoot running shoes.
Barefoot Running, Altra Zero Drop™ Running Shoes
When it comes to barefoot running shoes, Altra Running is one of the best known brands available in the market. These shoes come with a unique feature known as the Zero Drop™ Technology. This revolutionary technology ensures that any height difference between the toe and the heel is practically non-existent, which essentially negates the chances of first impact heel-striking. These shoes are designed in a way that draws inspiration for the anatomy of human barefoot. The purpose of Altra barefoot running shoes is to imitate the human bare foot, and present the user with an experience as similar to barefoot running as possible.