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The streets of Encinitas are filled with runners. Some of them world class runners and triathletes, some of them barefoot. The cover article of Nature is on barefoot running. Nature is a peer-reviewed inter-disciplinary publication that is well respected within the scientific community, therefore an article on barefoot running is one of note. The article goes into detail about the difference in foot strike between barefoot running and running with a shoe. Simply put, the barefoot running lands more on the forefoot and uses much less shocking impact than the heal strike runner wearing shoes.
I do not know if it is just me but it seems the topic of barefoot running is coming up everywhere I look recently. The book Born to Run by Chris McDougall discusses barefoot running and specifically the Tarahumara runners in Mexico and their running prowess. Of course they run in very minimalistic sandals. The Kenyan runners are known to run barefoot and the Stanford track team was running barefoot, inspiring the Nike Free running shoe.
Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program (more about Crossfit at another blog), but they discuss performing many of their exercises barefoot to increase strength and stability within the foot and ankle. Additionally, the running portion of Crossfit promotes the POSE running method, which is similar in many ways to running barefoot.
It is hard to argue that we were designed well and designed to be able to run. I have a similar discussion with my patients when they are having difficulty seeing up close as they age. While there are great designs on progressive lenses, bifocal contacts and multifocal implants, we have not come up with the replacement for the natural lens that allows the patient to focus like a 25 year. Not yet at least.
Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners
Daniel E. Lieberman1, Madhusudhan Venkadesan1,2,8, William A. Werbel3,8, Adam I. Daoud1,8, Susan D’Andrea4, Irene S. Davis5, Robert Ojiambo Mang’Eni6,7 & Yannis Pitsiladis6,7