You may have heard about and have been wondering about the increasing trend of barefoot running. It is as simple as the name sounds—running barefoot (or nearly barefoot). The idea is based on the theory that our feet and our bodies are designed to move correctly with the least amount, or no, assistance or hindrance from footwear. For many, the idea of running without any shoes is not a pleasant thought, so a whole new style of shoes have been developed to assist those who want the freedom of barefoot running without the danger of injury from stones, sticks or worse.
Running or walking barefoot is not revolutionary and in fact, many advocates of the movement state statistics that show for thousands of years, people walked and ran without shoes. Some argue that our feet are designed to move without the support of shoes and in fact some even believe that running shoes can cause more harm than good. These critics site injury caused to the legs and feet, chronic issues such as hip, back and knee problems as the problem of modern day shoes.
On the flip-side, barefoot running shoes are designed to snugly fit to the shape, width and height of a person’s foot without interfering with the natural roll of the ankle or stretch of the muscles. Some designs are very basic and simple pieces of leather than are tied onto the foot which simply protects the sole of the food from puncture injuries. Others such as the Vibram FiveFingers have separated toes, no padding and light top covering with Velcro. Nike, Adidas, Merrell and New Balance all currently make their own versions of barefoot running shoes that look like regular running shoes with more flexible soles and made from lighter fabric. New users should be cautious and take care when first wearing these or any other new shoes. Blisters, leg strain and other injuries can still occur until the shoes are broke in.
These new style of shoes are not just for those keen to pound the pavement or run long distances. They are excellent for the casual walker, cyclist, and hiker and due to their simple design, are even worn by those interested in water sports such as kayaking. They are increasingly used by those going to the gym, restaurant and bar workers and even busy mums wear them as their daily shoe. It is easy to see why they are as popular as they are light, reduce leg and foot stress and can even be a stylish and interesting shoe to add to the wardrobe. Most sports shops now stock these shoes and it is worth taking the time to go check them out if you are thinking about taking on barefoot running.