It is not myth for us that not everyone would be willing to remove their shoes and stay barefoot. These are probably for several reasons, such as black soles, hairy toes and generally if you consider your feet ugly. Probably the only people have the guts to walk barefooted, are the hobbits but maybe not. Shoes are good and are not the problem here: they keep our feet warm, protect them and sometimes they become our main accessory.
*Image credit: Joshua Hoffman
Well, it turns out, that these highly cushioned shoes you use when running do change how we run. This thick and stiff cushioned insert beneath the heel of your shoes helps you keep your arches from getting flattened out.
A team of scientists led by Harvard University’s, Daniel Lieberman, did a research on this and their findings were interesting. They found out that running barefoot is better than with shoes. According to their observations, if you wear shoes when running, you always land on your heel first, then roll through to the ball of the foot. They called this the “heel strike”. On the other hand, if you run barefoot, you land first on the ball of your foot, which they called the “forefoot strike”. The ground reaction force for the different methods was measured and the team found something interesting.
*Image credit: dreamstop.com
The team also measured the ground reaction force for the different methods and they found something more interesting.
When you land on your heel as you run, there is a huge spike in force (the “impact transient) that jolts through your heel and up your skeletal frame. This force, according to the researchers, is “equivalent to someone hitting you on the heel with a hammer using 1.5 to as much as 3 times your body weight. These impacts add up, since you strike the ground almost 1000 times per mile!” Thanks to the cushion in your shoes, you don’t notice the pain.
*Image credit: Mike Baird
They found out that running barefoot reduces that enormous rapid “impact transient” force. It’s likely that if you run with “forefoot strike”, chances of injury will be decreased and since you have to lower your heel to the ground while on a forefoot strike, your calf muscles, arches and tendons are strengthened. You get healthier and stronger feet!