Scarlett Johansson, Miley Cyrus, Jessica Simpson and Jake Gyllenhaal are amongst a growing group of celebrities who are fans of barefoot/minimalist running.

Running shoes were only invented in the mid 1970’s although we have been engaging in endurance running for millions of years either barefoot or wearing minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes. Research by Daniel E. Lieberman, Professor in the Department Human Evolutionary Biology and his team at Harvard University and Christopher McDougall who set off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong, which he share in his book Born to Run highlights why what we have been doing for all those years may not have been a bad thing.

barefoot running advantages

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Here are 5 benefits to consider before you put your running shoes on.

1. Most runners stride pattern means that they will generally strike the ground with the heel first, whereas barefoot runners will generally land on their forefoot and the heel will then follow. When the heel strikes the ground first it creates a sudden stop in what is known as our Kinetic Energy, which is a natural energy to create motion in the body, which means it will take more energy to keep running if you are always striking your heel first. By landing on the forefoot first It costs less energy because you use the natural springs in your foot and calf muscles more to store and release the energy.

2. With the average runner striking the ground almost 1000 times per mile, runners are highly susceptible to
repetitive stress injuries, which occurs due to recurrent overuse or improper use. One of the benefits of running barefoot or with a minimalist running shoe is that it encourages you to improve your gait and posture naturally, improving shock absorption.

3. One of the most common habits amongst runners is over pronation, meaning the arch of the foot elongates and flattens, which allows the foot to roll inward when the foot strikes the ground. Running barefoot strengthens the muscles in your foot, especially in the arch. A healthy foot is a strong foot, one that pronates less and is less liable to develop a collapsed arch.

4. Barefoot running feels great! Your feet have lots of sensory nerves in the soles. And because there is minimal impact forces on landing it can stimulate these nerves, which increase our proprioception, improving awareness and balance.

5. You only need to look at evolutionary history to see that humans ran barefoot for most of the last two million years, as they had evolved to be physically active endurance athletes to survive, so a barefoot running style that minimizes impact peaks and provides increased proprioception and foot strength, is hypothesized to help avoid injury and with figures of up to 75% of runners having an injury at some point, as the saying goes, if it aint broke then don’t try to fix it.

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