ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Run Barefoot: Understanding the Benefits

Updated on August 24, 2011
Why not you?
Why not you? | Source

Why not?

If you are at all a runner, have recently run or spectated a race, or just listened to enough runners gab for awhile, then you've probably heard or seen something about the growing popularity of barefoot and minimalist running. This contingent of runners has returned to a very primal form of running, a much shorter gait, with a lighter touch and a completely or almost bare foot. There have been a host of shoe products released to imitate the sensation and feel of barefoot running, such as Vibram's Fivefingers. So amidst all of the hype and seeming 'hip'-ness of barefoot running, its hard to find some straight answers about this style of running and its health affects. So if you're at all curious about barefoot running and its benefits, or have passionately stated that you'll never give up your running shoes, I invite you to read on.


Here's my disclaimer #1: Nothing is for everyone. No matter how bad I would like it to be, not everyone is going to be able to pick up barefoot running due to a variety of medical impairments. That said, I'm willing to bet that 98% of the rest of population could find it beneficial.

Disclaimer #2: While some would like to discuss the benefits of barefoot and minimalist running as scientific fact, there has actually been very limited scientific research into the matter, and as of right now there is no conclusive scientific evidence in favor or against minimalist running.

Foot Science

That said, there is a very insightful video on barefoot running done by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor at Harvard, who has begun experimenting with barefoot running. If you interested you can watch it here. What Dr. Lieberman goes on to show and discuss is the concept of the forefoot strike (landing on the fleshy outside, front edge of your foot) versus the heel strike, which is typical of most shod runners. The reason shoes cause you to strike with your heel is simply because the thick sole of a running shoes cushions the blow, exerting large amounts of concentrated force on your joints. Try running without shoes on pavement or even grass, and you will quickly realize how much it hurts; in fact, your feet are so sensitive that you will nearly have to force yourself to run heels first. To be short, running heel to toe is simply not natural. An estimated 65% of runners each year suffer injury, and no amount of orthotics (shoe inserts), stretching and specialized shoes has decreased that number. Could our shoes be secretly working against us?

Power of the Arch

The Arch. One of the strongest structural formations known to man. The way an arch works is the combined force of each piece of the arch, combined with the downward force on the top of the arch, creates outward thrust which compresses the arch together. Slightly less scientifically put, the more stress you put on an arch, the stronger it is. Now, think back for a moment (or Google images of arches), and see if you can recall a time where you have seen an arch with objects supporting it from underneath. Unless you've seen a collapsing building, chances are you haven't seen any such arch. It isn't any different with your feet. The arches in your feet are some of the most complex anatomical portions of your body. By supporting your arches with shoe soles, chances are you're weakening your natural shock absorbers which in turn is significantly raising your risk for injuries. So are shoes more harmful than help? You can decide for yourself, but what I would encourage you to do is this-Try it. Run around on grass and dirt for a week. Not huge distances, just enough to enjoy yourself and get a feel for it. If you're completely unconvinced that minimalist running has any benefit for you, you're shoes will always be waiting. However, hopefully you discover something amazing, a new feeling of freedom that you had not encountered before. If you want to read more about the barefoot running experience, check here. If you want to know how to find some minimalist footwear and get started click here.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)