Over the last few years the barefoot running craze has really caught on and proliferated amongst both competitive and casual runners. Almost everyone has seen people in those toe-shoes by now. So, what’s so great about it?
Isn’t there something just plain intriguing about those crazy looking shoes that you see barefoot runners using? I know that’s all it took to get my attention.
When it comes to barefoot running, you’re going to be focusing primarily on changing your gait pattern as you run. While traditional sneakers or running shoes have padding on the heel which encourages a heel strike (the heel contacting the ground first), barefoot running shoes do not. When running barefoot you’ll be hitting the ground with the ball of your foot first.
By striking the ground with the front of your foot first you’re allowing the calf muscles to absorb some of the impact forces related to running. The knee is also going to be at a more acute angle on impact without the padding of a shoe beneath your foot – allowing for the muscles in your thighs to contract without pressing on your knee joint as much.
Individuals who commonly strike the ground with the heel first are more prone to a variety of injuries and syndromes – stress fractures, anterior knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints just to name a few.
If you’ve been struggling with pain in your lower extremities due to running, it may be time to give barefoot running a shot.