The media has been slamming barefoot running as of late and sure, injuries might be more common without shoes (I mean, you’re not wearing shoes.). But you’re gonna have to run sans shoes at some point in your life—sprint to the mailbox, scrambling out of a sleeping bag to outrun a bear, too lazy to put on shoes, or whatever the case may be.
Kenyan marathoners (the hipsters of the running world) were running without shoes way before it was cool. It took some time before barefoot running made the mainstream on the sneaker soaked shores of the western hemisphere but we’re advocating for a whole new trend; completely barefoot running. Here are ten reasons to throw shoes out the window and start building that callus.
Makes Your Feet Tough
Do you want to impress your friends at the luau by walking on hot coals? Do you want to impress 90’s pop sensation Annie Lennox by walking on broken glass? If so, you’ll need tough feet, and running around barefoot is one way to toughen up those tootsies. It’s good for your sole.
Makes You Look Tough
Or crazy. Or poor. Or…eccentric. Barefoot runners are perceived many ways, but they are almost never accused of being wimps and they are never accused of being boring.
Or at least, less joint injury. Forget PRing, you’re just trying to survive. Running with no shoes at all will slow you down significantly meaning your joints won’t get near the wear and tear had you put on those kicks. Best of all, the skin that wears raw at the bottom of your feet now will grow back twice as strong and ready for more.
The average pair of running shoes get what — a few hundred miles? Your feet will get thousands. Just avoid stepping on nails, snakes or glass or your money saving strategy will quickly turn on itself.
And then there’s the disputed health benefits
Encourages Proper Form
Running barefoot forces you to land on the balls of your feet, rather than the heels. Heel-strike places unnecessary stress on the knees and by minimizing heel strikes, barefoot running reduces the threat of knee injuries from wear and tear.
Makes You Stronger
Your feet and ankles have many tiny stabilizing muscles and ligaments that rarely get much use. Without the support of a sturdy running shoe, these muscles all spring into action. Exercising these often-underutilized muscles may prevent injury.
Improves Your Balance
The same muscles mentioned above are absolutely crucial in any activity that involves balance. Barefoot running, and barefoot exercise in general, improves balance by exercising and strengthening these stabilizing muscles.
Running barefoot forces runners to be mindful of their environment. Changes in terrain are immediately apparent and significantly impact barefoot runners. Going barefoot not only forces runners to focus on proper form in a general sense, but it actually forces runners to be mindful of each and every step. The increased terrain awareness translates to an overall increase in special awareness, and that’s always a good thing.
While barefoot running might have gotten a bad name as of late, remember that people have been doing it for thousands of years. For those ready to reconnect feet with nature, try running without shoes (completely). For everyone else, maybe complete barefoot running is best left for sandy beaches and turf soccer fields.