Barefoot Running: The Debate Continues

Barefoot Running

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We’ve written about barefoot running before, including our 4 prep steps to read before starting a barefoot regimen, and Is Barefoot Best? The Truth About Running Techniques. But is barefoot really best?

The short answer is that nobody really knows. According to the following infographic, which urges runners to ditch their footwear because running shoes “do more harm than good,” it’s the shoes that are to blame for the increase in Achilles tendon injuries that we’ve seen since the 1970s. However, there are many factors that may play a part in the increased incidence of running-related injuries, and it’s likely there are multiple reasons why we’re seeing more injuries, not just whether a runner wears shoes.

Sure, barefoot running has a long history in many places. But in the Western world, running only started becoming popular as a widespread form of exercise as recently as a few decades ago. So given that surge in popularity, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen more running-related injuries over that time. It’s also important to note that MRI technology wasn’t even available as a diagnostic imaging method until the late 70s–so the increased use of MRI could be another contributing factor as to why running injury diagnoses have also increased. In the end, more scientific evidence is needed to determine how footwear–or a lack of it–affects most runners.

Without that evidence, we can’t definitively say whether barefoot running or shod running is best, but as the debate continues, our goal remains the same: to deliver a balanced perspective on all matters of health and fitness. So whether you’re already running sans shoes, or just thinking about trying it, we recommend reading our 4 prep steps.  And if you choose to “free your feet,” make sure you start out slow to avoid injuries.

Free Your Feet
Created by: X Ray Technician Schools

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.