Barefoot Athletes – Is Barefoot Running the New Trend?

With the onset of fitness gurus and individuals participating in extreme sports, there is yet another trend that seems to be becoming quite popular, and that is barefoot running.

Barefoot running has been around for a very long time, but in recent times it’s been getting a lot more attention. There had been, and still continues to be quite a controversy about the support and relative comfort for regular running shoes in comparison to running barefoot. Many people believe that running barefoot is healthier for the foot and enables the runner to run for greater distances over longer periods of time.

Traditional running shoes, it has been argued, do not properly support the foot for the impact that it endures throughout running. What shoe companies have done over the years to change their shoes has been just to add more rubber to the soles of the shoes giving the appearance of more support. In reality that additional rubber or other synthetic material has done very little to add additional support to the runners foot. In fact many individuals would argue that traditional running shoes are bad for running and are actually counterproductive in that they can reduce the distance that you are able to run and the overall comfort that you will have is a lot worse.

Barefoot runners believe that running barefoot is the best way to preserve our natural stride, and to help the runner endure longer events. They run differently than traditional runners, either running flat footed or by running toe to toe. A popular book by Christopher McDougall “Born to Run”, describes how it is a runners natural instinct to run like this and that the foot acts like a spring and that enables the runner to run for longer periods of time.

It is not advised to start barefoot running without first trying it out and building up a endurance for it. Especially if you are thinking of implementing any of the new running techniques i.e. toe to toe, your body won’t be accustomed to this new routine, and as a result you may sustain some injuries. If you would like to incorporate barefoot running into your regular routine it is recommended to start slowly and only run 10% of the time barefoot, and the rest of the time your regular way. Over time increase the percentage until you feel comfortable enough running your whole routine barefoot. Keep in mind that barefoot running is not for everyone and you will need to build up a new rhythm/technique for this way of running. There are many barefoot books available in addition to Christopher McDougall’s (mentioned above), and it is advised to read as much information via the web and through additional resources i.e. books, video, and other media on barefoot running topics.

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