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Is Walking Barefoot Healthier?

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Is Walking Barefoot Healthier?

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?

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6:19PM PDT on Jun 22, 2015

Thank You I am almost always barefoot

9:36AM PDT on Sep 30, 2012


12:45PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Thank you

5:44AM PDT on Sep 14, 2012


6:32AM PDT on May 22, 2012

In the vast majority of situations barefoot is much safer and more hygienic than wearing shoes in my experience. And more comfortable. And definitely better for small children

6:06AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Not if you step on something sharp! :(

5:47AM PDT on May 22, 2012


5:45AM PDT on May 22, 2012

not on the snow

7:21PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

I walk barefoot around the house most of the time, and on the beach, it does feel good :)

7:16PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Not sure about running barefoot on the roads, but walking barefoot on the beach (sand) is difinitely very soothing.

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