According to an article in Runner’s World, barefoot is the way to go. Apparently, some studies have actually shown little to no difference in shock absorption up the leg in runners wearing shoes? So why do we wear them? Just to keep our feet soft? (That would actually be a good enough reason for me.) I never want to go for a run and step on glass.
There are some concerns that barefoot running is tough on the Achilles tendon and can lead to plantar fasciitis. Because of this runners need to build up to barefoot running very slowly. This bothers me too. If I go for a run now, I do a minimum of 3.6 miles. I don’t want to have to start running less than that.
I found great information on Harvard’s website. I went there when after finding another site claiming that a Harvard study found that running barefoot was considerably better than shoe running. The Harvard site makes no claims about which is better, but gives you some science and biomechanics behind each. And it’s filled with interesting tid-bits like the fact that we really didn’t run with any supportive shoes until the mid 1970’s.
Ultimately, what I got from reading the Harvard pages was that there hasn’t really be a study yet that would determine which is better. They said that a number of people run with sneakers without injury each year. That being said, while they state multiple times that a study hasn’t been done, they explained that based on the biomechanics of the foot barefoot running might reduce the risk of stress fractures, runner’s knee, and plantar fasciitis.
They really seem to want to prove barefoot running is the way to go, but haven’t actually tested it yet. All I know is that I’m intrigued, but fearful that I don’t have the patience needed to start slowly. That’s been my deterrence all along.