Archive for the tag - running sneakers

Barefoot Running Benefits.

Barefoot running has developed something of a cult following – and, admittedly, I’m starting to drink the Kool-Aid. You might even say that it’s a movement.

Think about it: Our feet are the result of millions of years of evolution and designed to safely and efficiently transport our bodies over a variety of surfaces at varying speeds. Running shoes, on the other hand, have only been around for a few decades. Maybe there’s something to be said for being barefoot.

I’m a big fan of data, but there hasn’t been much research on running barefoot versus running with shoes. And so, I was excited to discover a new study about barefoot running by researchers at Northumbria University.

The study followed a mix of recreational and trained runners who completed a variety of runs in both shoes and barefoot on separate days. The study concluded that newly barefoot runners immediately alter their gait to that of habitual barefoot runners – and strike the ground with lower impact forces and loading rates than runners who use shoes. The altered gait is both safer and more comfortable.

Moreover, barefoot runners used an average of 6% less oxygen. In other words, their running became 6% more efficient. This could be for a number of reasons – not the least of which may be the added weight of sneakers. According to research, there’s about a 1% increase in energy demand for every 100 grams of additional footwear mass.

A mere 6% might not sound like much – but when you look at Olympic events, for example, you quickly realize that every hundredth of a second counts. Even a little added efficiency can make a huge difference for athletes performing at this level.

While the increases in efficiency and decreases in injury risk associated with barefoot running may seem small and inconsequential for most recreational runners, I’d recommend giving it a try. If you’re interested, the Nike Free Run (read my review) is a great transitional sneaker. It’s the sneaker that I use, and I’m in love with its flexibility.

And beyond the potential benefits, there’s something very freeing, natural and almost romantic about running barefoot and feeling the earth beneath your feet. That is, until you step on a piece of glass.

In the comments below, let me know if you’re a fan of barefoot running – or if you’re curious to give it a try.