Lately, we noticed a trend called barefoot running which can also be called natural running. By chance Natascha asked us a question about this issue. She is looking for new running shoes and was wondering if we know more about the transition from ‘normal’ running shoes to barefoot running shoes?
Why is there a difference between barefoot running and ‘normal’ running shoes?
Shoes are specifically designed with a cushion under your feet since we want to protect our feet. If you take a closer look at your shoes, you can see that there is probably more cushion underneath your heel. This can feel nice when you’re walking around but researchers have suggested that this is not good for your heels. Your feet are designed to roll into a next step. This means that a step will start with your heel while you role to your toes and after that continue with your next step.
Research by Robbins and Gouw (1991) has shown that professional running shoes will provide you with more comfort while running, but enhances the chance of an injury. While running in your athletic running shoes that have additional features such as pronation correction, people perceive less impact. However, the impact stays the same. Research by Robbins and Waked (1997) shows that you will plant your feet even more on the ground, because it’s in the feet’s nature to feel it. This will result into more injury, because you are using everything even more. Thus, padding on your foot equals more shock on your body. Another research by Shakoor and Block (2006) shows impact on knees was less when people wore non-padded shoes. All of these results demonstrate that there is indeed a difference between walking/running on ‘normal’ shoes versus barefoot (shoes).
What will the transition be like?
It is really important to make the transition go smoothly. By walking on barefoot shoes you have to learn a complete new way of walking. We are so used to walking on shoes. This means that when we walk, we are doing that with our knees instead of the muscles in our feet. You will have to train your muscles in your feet. You can do this best by starting to walk with your barefoot shoes. After a while, you can try to go for a run with your shoes. Just adapt it slow and smoothly. You don’t want to get injured by wanting stuff to fast.
Of course, the type of shoe is up to you! It is different for every person.
Would you like to try barefoot running?
Robbins, S. E., & Waked, E. (1997). “Foot position awareness: the effect of footwear on instability, excessive impact, and ankle spraining”. Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 9(1):53-74.
Robbins, S. E., & Gouw, G. J. (1991). “Athletic footwear: Unsafe due to perceptual illusions”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Excercise, 23(2): 217 – 223.
Shakoor, N., & Block, J.A. (2006). “Walking barefoot decreases loading on the lower extremity joints in knee osteoarthritis”. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 54(9), 2923-2927.