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Mar 24

To Bare Or Not To Bare Barefoot Running

Most runners fight injury if they stick to it long enough. It would be hard to find many marathon runners or even recreational runners not plagued with planters faciatis, shin splints, hip problems or as in my case two stress fractures. Why do runners get so many injuries? I think I finally found the answer after much searching. Because we run with shoes.

Shoes, the comfortable, cushiony, protective, supportive footwear we have all been led to believe will keep us from getting injuries. Just as for centuries people thought the world was flat, the age old theory that shoes protect and provide is crashing to it’s death.

What is the strongest architectural structure? The arch. We have a weight bearing arch on our foot. It is the pinnacle of strength. Modern, high tech running shoes put pressure on the underneath side of the arch thus weakening this perfectly constructed load bearer. The results? Injury. Who would build an arched bridge and then put pressure on the underside of it? No one. The results are the same.

I read a study of a man who had fought running injuries constantly, yet after he started to run barefoot his shoe size actually shrunk 2 sizes as his arch was strengthened. The shoe companies cause foot problems that never were a problem. All runners have read horror stories about pronation and super-pronation, but are these real problems or are the shoe companies just trying to “fix” something that isn’t an issue if left alone. Show me the studies proving superpronation is a problem to the body. Shoe companies invent problems then sell expensive shoes to fix the problem, thus creating the problem! What a group of suckers we are.

After getting so excited about all the articles I had read on-line about running barefooted, I did a maiden voyage around the track at the local high school a few times. I did run faster, but my feet were a little tender afterwards. We have protected our feet to the point that they are soft and sensitive. We have to use tough love and get them back to where they were when we were children. Remember spending the days running barefoot even on hot sand and never noticing? I did buy myself a pair of barefoot running shoes to just take the edge off trail running.

Running is no longer coupled with pain or injury. I run faster, longer and certainly more enjoyably than I ever thought possible. The sun on my face, the rolling hills ahead, my friend by my side, the feel of the earth beneath my feet. Pure joy. “Run like the wind, Bullseye.”

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