Running Barefoot Blunts Foot's Force

Running Barefoot Blunts Foot's Force

Going shoeless tempers impact, but effect on injuries uncertain

 

The clothes don’t make the man, but wearing no shoes might make the runner. A study of people who habitually run barefoot shows that these runners’ feet strike the ground in a way that tempers impact forces and smoothes the running movement, a study appearing online January 27 in Nature finds. The team found that the ankles of these barefoot U.S. runners are more flexible than those of the heel-striking shoe wearers. That flexibility may be protective against stress injuries common in running. “The stiff landing hurts,” says study coauthor Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University. “One shouldn’t be scared of barefoot or minimal shoe running or think it odd. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s normal and, if done properly, it is very fun and comfortable. We evolved to run barefoot.”

silhouette of human walking

Lieberman, D.E., Venkadesan, M., Werbel, W.A., Daoud, A.I., D’Andrea, S., Davis, I.S., Mang’Eni, R.O., Pitsiladis, Y. 2010. Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature 463, 531-565.