With all the hype about barefoot running, I’d really like to know if there is an accurate source to find out what is best for the body. I’m especially interested since over the past couple weeks I’ve become obsessed wtih running and form. Anecdotally, I know people who swear by the Vibram FiveFingers, while at the same time I have a close runner friend who swears that barefoot running destroyed his Achilles tendons. When I asked about it the last time I bought a pair of running shoes at Fleet Feet in West Hartford they told me it was a matter of preference.

Okay, but that is sort of a non-answer. Maybe barefoot running is good for certain body types or people who pronate but don’t supinate. I don’t know, but I’d prefer an answer along those lines.

If I stand in my house and run with my shoes off, here is what happens. I run on the ball of my foot, sometimes in the motion my heels hit the ground, sometimes not. There is an easy bounce in my step. It feels great when I do it for a minute. I’m not sure how I’d feel after an hour of it. If barefoot I try and run heel-toe it changes my whole gait. I really can’t do it, and I look quite silly trying. I feel like when I’ve just painted my toe nails and I need to walk somewhere with my toes lifted.

That being said, I’ve tried running on the balls of my feet for short stretches when I’m running in sneakers and I can’t seem to do it. It’s like my body just won’t land that way. Then I get in the pool and run and I can’t run heel-toe. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible. So I feel like my body is telling me one thing and my shoes are telling me another.

My gut tells me that our bodies are really amazing structures, and since we evolved without shoes, the way we run without them must be what makes natural sense for our body. At the same time, I like to assume that there was a reason someone invented the sneaker that I hope wasn’t just profit. I assume they were seen as beneficial in some way.