By Sara Snow, TreeHugger
New research is showing that ditching your shoes could possibly make your bones and body healthier. According to a recent article in the UK’s Guardian (also covered recently in TreeHugger, “Barefoot Running Is the New Treat for Your Feet“), researchers analyzed the movements of runners on a treadmill and found that running in shoes increased joint stress more so than running barefoot. And even more than walking in high heels!
The article goes on to say that “running shoes aim to offer protection against injury by cushioning the foot… and stop it rolling too much while it’s in contact with the ground. However, there’s not much research on whether these features really work. Injury rates in distance runners have stayed about the same over time, despite changes in the design of running shoes.”
Hmmm, gives you reason to rethink those expensive running shoes, doesn’t it?
And in an article published just last week in Nature, according to research by Harvard University’s Daniel Lieberman, barefoot running was found to reduce the impact on feet. In the article Lieberman states that most runners land on their heel when they strike, which generates a sharp spike of force, “so it’s like someone hitting you on the heel with a hammer, about one-and-a-half to three times your body weight,” he says. However, after testing barefoot runners in US and Kenya, he was surprised by the lower force readings. He was able to confirm that this is because barefoot runners land on the ball or middle of the root, rather than the heel, which means less impact and a softer landing.
But, could you actually run barefoot? In 1960 Abebe Bikila won an Olympic marathon while running barefoot. Galahad Clark, founder of Terra Plana footwear, is also (perhaps surprisingly) a fan of barefoot running, as TH writer Bonnie also points out. But that’s extreme. So forget about running barefoot. What about just walking barefoot?
Next: Are you walking correctly?