Recently, not only being inspired by a friend who is looking to get some minimalist shoes, I spotted this article on the Strength & Conditioning Journal talking about barefoot running and how to prep yourself for it. Pretty interesting read as it brings up the biomechanical aspects and differences between barefoot running and shod running or running with shoes.
Picture from New York Times.
Basically, the article highlights several key differences between both forms of running. They provided a nice table to show this and in fact, it sums up the whole article.
- Foot Strike - Barefoot running results in a mid-foot/forefoot strike while running with shoes causes an inclination towards striking with the heel (reason given for the increased impact forces detrimental to the lower limb).
- Efficiency of Running Technique - Running barefoot involves small steps in higher cadences but shod-running requires larger steps with a lower cadence. Based on research, with barefoot running, oxygen cost or consumption was hence lower.
- Proprioception - The ability to sense one's position is heightened with barefoot running as you are directly in contact with the surface you run on. With better proprioception in the foot, it is said to improve your feet's ability to react to the different surfaces, making them stronger and "more alert".
So, is barefoot running meant for everyone? I am not plugging it but I say it's a good method to get your running technique right. Shoes are still important because they protect your feet. But with the manufacturing of minimalist shoes, we probably could get an ideal situation of barefoot running while still wearing shoes.
Next question is with so many minimalist shoes out in the market now, which one is better? Stay tuned for my reviews on the minimalist shoes I have.
P.S. My only qualm about the article is that the picture they have for one of the exercises for their barefoot running prep training program is ridiculous. It is of someone doing a squat jump but with the knees caving in! At least get a good example of someone performing the exercise if you want to recommend a program!
Stay Strong in Your Feet and Keep Running,
The Training Geek.