Is Running Barefoot Better Than Running In Shoes?

This sounds good so long as you don’t step on something sharp and rusty.

Western runners, of whom 90 per cent suffer injuries every year, would be better off leaving their sneakers at home, and running barefoot. Science and sceptical runners are catching up with something the Tarahumara Indians have known for ever: your naked feet are fine on their own.

According to a growing body of clinical research, those expensive running shoes you’ve been relying on may be worse than useless: they could be causing the very injuries they’re supposed to prevent.

Out here in the non-Tarahumara world, where we have access to the best in sports medicine, training innovations and footwear, up to 90 per cent of all marathoners are injured every year. The Tarahumara, by contrast, remain spry and healthy deep into old age.

I saw numerous men and women in their seventies loping up steep, cliffside switchbacks on their way to villages 30 miles away. Back in 1994, a Tarahumara man ventured out of the canyons to compete against an elite field of runners at the Leadville Trail Ultramarathon, a 100-mile race through the Rocky Mountains. He wore homemade sandals. He was 55 years old. He won.

So how do the Tarahumara protect their legs from all that pounding? Simple – they don’t. They don’t protect and, most critically, they don’t pound. When the Tarahumara aren’t barefoot, they wear nothing more cushioned than thin, hard sandals fashioned from discarded tire treads and leather thongs. In place of artificial shock absorption, they rely on an ancient running technique that creates a naturally gentle landing.

Unlike the vast majority of modern runners, who come down heavily on their foam-covered heels and roll forward off their toes, the Tarahumara land lightly on their forefeet and bend their knees, as you would if you jumped from a chair. This ingenious, easy-to-learn style could have a profound effect on runners, not to mention the multi-billion dollar running-shoe industry.

Personally, my feet feel constricted when I have to put shoes on. That’s why you’ll find me in a nice pair of sandals most of the time.

Maybe it’s living in a warm climate here in Florida or the fact that I feel more grounded when barefoot. Sure, there’s risks of stubbing toes, cutting feet on things that a shoe would avoid, not to mention keeping them clean. But I’m not saying walk around on hot asphalt in your bare feet either.

I’ve instinctively tried this method of running and found it to be easy on the feet and fast.

Maybe save your money on those expensive running shoes, eh?  Oh, and move to the music at 180 beats per minute 😉

You know, after reading this article, it reminds me of a book on tantric breathing I read years ago.  Proper breathing technique goes hand in hand with your running technique if you want to go the extra mile(s).  The tantric book talked about monks that could run from one village to another non stop – often 50 to 100 miles away and get there in the same day – in part because of the way they breathed.


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