Barefoot

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There’s a lot of talk right now about ‘barefoot’ running.

It’s a craze.  Some experts love it, some aren’t so sure.

That’s the problem with experts.  There’s rarely consensus.  Different experts, different opinions.  No clear path for the lay person.

I like running in shoes.  I also see the logic in trusting your bodies natural biomechanics.  Our bodies were meant to run.  We don’t need a stability shoe to make it possible.  Humans were running long before shoes were designed for pronation problems.

The problem is our bodies weren’t designed to run on pavement, asphalt and the other hard surfaces that make up the majority of surfaces we runners spend our time on (unless you are lucky enough to live on the beach).  Back before running shoes, I’m pretty sure most running was done on soft surfaces like the grass, in the forest.

And on the grass is the perfect place to practice being barefoot.

When was the last time you took off your shoes and just walked in the grass?  Felt the blades between your toes.  It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.  Bonus points if sprinklers are involved.

I can recall playing barefoot in the yard for hours as a kid.  Shoes were rarely on in the summer. It felt like freedom.  Until of course I stepped on a nail.  Then it was back to shoes for a while.   Yet even as adult there’s something remarkable about the feeling of being barefoot in the grass.  For no other reason than to feel that freedom again.

As for running, I’ve come down in the middle.

I’ve moved to a less supportive shoe.  I’m checking in to see how my body responds.

Ultimately my body is the only expert I trust. So far, I like what my body is telling me about this new way of running.  If the trend continues, I’ll move to less support.  Until then, I’ll enjoy a few moments of bliss when I take my shoes off after a run to feel the grass between my toes.

Comments

  1. Andrea

    May 26, 2012

    I love this. :) Thanks for the reminder and great tip on running barefoot. It’s nice to hear someone explain the significance of trusting your own body. I love your newsletter and your work. Thank you.

  2. Ian @ Natural Gumption

    May 26, 2012

    I see so many people running bare foot and using those neoprene foot shoes and I think you bring up a valid point that if you run on the sand or fields where the impact is less then bare foot is cool, but running barefoot on asphalt 5 days a week is surely going to pound those joints!

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