I got my new Trail Runner magazine in the mail yesterday. There’s an article about the advantages of occasionally running barefoot. This seems to make some sense to me. It seems that our natural stride would make use of a forefoot landing to help cushion the foot strike. And it seems that running with our natural stride would best suit our bodies.
About ten years ago I experimented with a forefoot landing. It took a little bit of getting used to, but eventually became a pretty comfortable stride for me. I never did much actual barefoot running, though.
The article states that over-supportive running shoes keep runners from noticing slight misalignments in their foot strikes. For lower mileage runners this might be okay. If running shoes help people to get out and run a few miles for general exercise, that’s great. But, as distance and regularity of runs build up, that slight misstep repeated over and over again may lead to injury in any number of joints from the toe to the neck.
The article recommends adding barefoot running on grass for a few minutes to your normal routine. This allows the muscles of the foot to get a proper natural workout and may help to retrain your feet to land properly. Of course, for longer distances, there may be some drawbacks to barefoot running. But, anyway, I think I’d like to give this barefoot thing a try on occasion.
On a related note, I don’t tie my shoes anymore. I double knot the laces loosely so that I can slide my shoes on and off fairly easily. I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I do this so that I get the advantage of a cushy ride while still giving my feet some space to do their own support thing. It’s worked quite well for me. I just hope I don’t forget which way the bunny is supposed to go if I ever have to tie them again.
(And, no, I don’t think this was related to my most recent left foot trouble which has now been miraculously healed after retiring some worn out shoes – thanks Geoff)