Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Barefoot Running: Is it really better?

The results are in!

Studies have been conducted, performances have been examined, runners and coaches and podiatrists have been surveyed.

Even the studies are being studied.

It turns out that barefoot running is:

more injurious than shod,
less inurious than shod,
more efficient than shod,
less efficient than shod,
bad for your feet,
good for your feet.

It all depends on which study you pick.

So I would like to remind anyone who is reading this of a couple of things.

When you see an article that starts with something like, "Studies show that there is no one best way to run, with even elite long-distance runners showing a variety of styles - but wearing lightweight shoes is better than none," you should go past the headline, and read the article. If it is a news article you should then find the studies that were cited, when you read the study, it is a good idea to think critically about their methodology and see if there are possible flaws in the study, it is also a good idea to see if other studies support that study or refute it. 

Short version: Headlines have one purpose, to get you to read the article. The headlines will take a scientific article and turn it into an advertisement. This goes for barefoot running, and any other hot topic as well.

The other thing I would like to remind people of is this.

If what you are doing is working for you, keep doing it. If you are a barefoot runner and it works for you don't switch to a shoe with exactly 10mm of cushioning because some study said it was 1.9 percent more efficient. If you are running injury free in a cushioned shoe, you don't have to go barefoot just because your barefoot running friend told you it cured his asthma. 

Go out and run, barefoot, nearly barefoot, or with whatever shoe works for you.

For me running nearly barefoot boils down to two simple things. When I started doing it, my running aches and pains stopped, and, very simply, I like the way it feels.