Advocates of running barefoot claim that doing so strengthens the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot and promotes a natural running galt that is less prone to injury.
Shoes provide support, which doesn't allow the foot to strengthen and support itself.
Much like wearing thick mittens, shoes reduce proprioception, the body's awareness of itself to its enviroment.
Shoes add mass to the foot, slowing down the runner.
People interested in running barefoot are encouraged to start by walking barefoot, increasing their time gradually so that the sole has time to become conditioned. This helps to avoid blisters.
The middle ground
Running shoes that are available are so minimal, they can emulate running barefoot, yet provide a sole that helps protect the foot from extreme weather conditions, rocks and glass.
The agony of the feet.
Injuries associated with running in shoes and over-doing it without proper conditioning:
Hamstring injuries: Tearing or excessive stretching of the muscles and tissue behind the knee.
Iliotibial band syndrome: Inflamation of the iliotibial band.
Knee pain: Caused by excessive, repetetive impact.
Calf muscle: Subject to tearing and inflammation
Shin splints: Caused by overuse of the muscles at the front of the lower leg.
Stress fractures: Hairline fractures of the tibia.
Ankle sprains: Footwear increases the risk by decreasing awareness of foot position or by increasing the leverage and twisting torque around the joint because of shoe height.
Achilles tendonitis: Aggravated by shoes with a high heel.
Plantar fasciitis: Inflammation of the ligament running along the sole of the foot.
Running barefoot changes the way the foot impacts the ground:
1. Before contact, the foot is in a more natural, relaxed position.
2. The runner lands on the forefoot and adjusts the impact instinctively because of increased sensitivity to the surface.
1. Before contact, the foot is pointed upward.
2. Cushioned shoes encourage the runner to land heel-first.