Barefoot Running Injuries
Barefoot running is a sport that involves running without foot wear which is also known as ‘natural running’. Because there is no foot protection, barefoot running injuries can be common. Barefoot running has been around since time immemorial. It was mainly practiced by some indigenous communities in Mexico and Africa. It became popular in the late 20th centuries when Bruce Tulloh, Zola Budd and Abebe Bikila ran the Olympics barefoot.
Some researchers claim that there is some association between running barefoot and the reduction of foot injuries risks and improvement of foot biomechanics. That said, barefoot running injuries are still a risk brought about by this type of running. In this article I am going to look at some of the more common barefoot running injuries and latter highlight a few benefits of barefoot running.
Common barefoot running injuries
A sudden transition from running on shoes to running barefoot can be to a certain extent, a shock to the foot and therefore it requires a slow transition. That is not the only concern though. There are several concerns brought about by shoeless workouts this includes:
- Increase of Calf Strain and Achilles Tendinitis – This is common to those people who are not used to running barefoot. Running barefoot for the first time may create a shock to your foot and you may feel like your muscles are overworked. In some people, this may contribute to injuries such as Calf Strain and Achilles tendinitis.
- Be prepared for blisters – It goes without say that if you are going barefoot running for the first time; you will develop blisters for the first couple of weeks until calluses develop.
- No foot protection – Shoes normally protect the foot from thorns, rocks, broken glasses and nails. It also shields the foot from the effects of cold weather (Ice, frost and snow). Therefore running shoeless makes you exposed to these dangers.
- Enhance plantar pain – Plantar surface refers to the bottom part of the foot which is normally soft and tender. Going shoeless may cause plantar pain and to those vulnerable individuals, it enhances the risk of plantar fasciitis
Benefits of barefoot running
It’s not all bad news for barefoot runners. In fact there are many benefits that far outweigh the barefoot running injuries mentioned above. Listed below are a few.
- Barefoot running strengthens the muscles and helps in the development of natural gait
- It also trains runners to land on their forefoot rather than on their heels. It has been noted that heel striking is brought about by excessive padding of running shoes
- Barefoot running also improves proprioception and balance. Running shoeless stimulates smaller muscles in your legs, ankles, feet and hips which improves coordination and balance
- It has also been proved that running shoeless aids the calf muscles and Achilles tendons to stretch and hence reduce injuries
- It also makes you feel more grounded. Apart from increasing your balance, running barefoot makes you feel connected with the environment
As you can see, although barefoot running has recently grown in popularity, you must be informed of both positives and negatives of the sport. If you are interested in trying barefoot running, it is recommended that you should consult a podiatrist so that they can make an informed decision. It is also important to note that more studies are still being carried out to establish whether running barefoot has more benefits than running on shoes
Tagged bare foot, barefoot running, injuries, running