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Barefoot running: Here are some advantages and disadvantages you must know

Have you tried running barefoot? © Shutterstock

Is it better to run with running shoes or should you opt to run barefoot? A fitness expert and barefoot runner lists reasons why you should and shouldn't consider running barefoot. The choice is yours!

Barefoot running as the word suggests is running without any shoes. You will see a barefoot runner in almost any major running event. In the running community, a book called Born to Run became hugely popular and started the trend of running barefoot. According to the book, there is a tribe in Mexico called Tarahumara. People of Tarahumara are called the best ultra runners in the world and they mostly run barefoot or use very low cushioned sandals. Barefoot runner and fitness expert Mukul Nagpaul, owner, PMF Training lists out the advantages and disadvantages of barefoot running.

Advantages

  • When running barefoot, you are able to use the smaller muscles of the feet, ankles, hips which are rarely used otherwise. This helps in a better balance and coordination.
  • As running shoes are more cushioned towards the heel, a lot of people strike their heel first while running which can cause injuries whereas barefoot running leads to landing on the balls of the feet, generating less impact.
  • It helps in strengthening of the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot causing a more natural gait.
  • It improves foot mechanism which leads to an optimum performance from glutes, knees and core.

Disadvantages

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  • With barefoot running, you do not get any protection from glass, nails, thorns etc on the road.
  • Almost everyone gets blisters from barefoot running.
  • Running barefoot doesn t give any protection from the cold weather the way running shoes do.
  • Initially, there is a lot of stiffness in the calves and Achilles tendon.
  • As our bottom of the feet is very soft, so running barefoot can cause plantar fasciitis.

Precautions

If you are not used to barefoot running then you need to progress really gradually as most of us are used to running in shoes and all of a sudden switching to barefoot running can give your feet a shock causing damage to the tendons. So it is advisable to first switch to shoes with less cushioning, then to a minimalistic shoe and then barefoot. It is very important to gradually increase the distance with barefoot running otherwise there are chances of injuries and a lot of painful blisters. If you don t have any pains, heel strike or injuries while running with shoes, there is no need to switch to barefoot running.

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