Are There Really Benefits to Running Barefoot?

Photo by Simon Howden

Running and I do not have a loving relationship. There is something about the repetitive motion, the sound of my heart pounding in my ears, the thump-thump-thump of my feet on the pavement that just makes want to…to…stop running.

Jogging is bearable, particularly when I’m out at Turner Lake or Panola Mountain Park enjoying the winding paths under the trees. The dirt paths are more gentle on my knees and the atmosphere is kinder to my spirit. During one outing, I came across a guy in those fancy running shoes that form to your feet. He was pausing for a break so I asked him why he preferred those shoes to traditional trainers. “They’re as close to running barefoot as I can get without hurting my feet,” he explained through pants. That wasn’t ground breaking news to me but it did spark a good conversation.

There simply isn’t a lot of research that confirms physical benefits to running barefoot. There are claims that barefoot runners experience fewer injuries and simultaneously there are reported incidences of runners being injured while training barefoot. Everything from cutting their feet on unexpected objects to damaging their heels and knees. When it comes to injuries, the most consistent theme is that well-trained runners avoid injuries. Whether their feet are shod or bare seems irrelevant. (There is support for walking barefoot but that’s not what this article is about.)  Most of the benefits of running barefoot are mental.

The sensory sensations are the most unique; the grass, pavement, leaves and twigs all become part of your running experience, not just the dampness of sweaty socks. I’m not sure how common this is but the runner that I met cited the unparalleled sensation of  “get the hell up and go,” the ability to literally jump off of the couch or out of your bed and start running without the nuisance of sock finding a lace tying. Running barefoot feels spontaneous and liberating.

Vibram FiveFingers "Sprint"

There is no need to weigh the dangers of barefoot running with its benefits. Get the best of both worlds. Abbadabba has the largest inventory of toe shoes in Atlanta. You can also find other toe-friendly, earth-friendly footwear there as well.

Interested in barefoot running? Try Birthday Shoes, the barefoot running society of Atlanta. You won’t find me there by any means but they seem like friendly people based on the website 🙂

Sources: WebMD, The Running Barefoot, New York Magazine, Runners’ World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *