Humans have been running for over 2 million years and when they first started running, they ran barefoot of course!
In Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” he discusses various scientific studies about barefoot running and how we evolved into humans made for running. McDougall describes why running injuries familiar to us are unheard of in the Copper Canyon of Mexico where barefoot tribal folks run for hours on end.
It is clear from recent research that the modern running shoe has a significant impact on our bodies and our running mechanics.
When we run with modern cushioned shoes, we tend to land heavily on our heels, which increases the force at impact. Conversely, when we run in bare feet we land more on the forefoot or mid foot and with more bend in the knees, both of which absorb the force of impact more efficiently.
The modern shoe also significantly reduces stride frequency and changes the contraction sequence of the leg and back muscles. Running with an increased stride frequency, or higher turnover rate of the feet, decreases the amount of force and time of each foot strike, which is believed to decrease the chance of repetitive type running injuries.
Many running experts are now recommending weekly training drills in bare feet to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle, improve our proprioception (body’s awareness in space), thereby reducing the chances of running injuries.
Keep in mind that any changes in your training program must be gradual. Extreme changes can cause an overload on your tissues and possibly an injury. Why not try taking off your shoes and baring your sole!