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The Effect of Barefoot Running

The subculture of running barefoot is rapidly increasing, but not without sparking numerous debates from opposing sides. While some supporting individuals claim its effectiveness, the opposing side is quick to remind us of the lack of sufficient evidence.

Admittedly, there are studies that prove that running barefoot increases running efficiency by 4%. However, the people that experienced this benefit are found to be limited in number. Yet, before taking a deeper look at the details that entail barefoot running, it’s crucial that we understand the philosophy on which it is based.

The philosophy of barefoot running is based on the premise that the padding and cushioning that comes with modern shoes are a disadvantage. According to the claims of those that advocate it, the padding of the shoes prevents the small muscles, arches, ligaments and tendons in the feet from doing their job. Therefore, the aforementioned areas are weakened and become more susceptible to injury.

Of course, the opposing side still firmly supports that shoes prevent knee, leg and foot injuries. Based on the simple fact that running barefoot is not a solution offered by any foot doctor, it’s safe to say that it is not an effective treatment for foot pain.

Regardless of the fact that there is very little scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of running barefoot, there is some anecdotal evidence supporting it. This anecdotal evidence is provided by expert runners that have proven that running barefoot can be beneficial in some ways, especially in strengthening the core of the foot.

If you’re one of those thinking of jumping onto the bandwagon of going barefoot, it is essential that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Hence, below we’ve highlighted the effects that come with running barefoot that you should keep in mind. We are going to start by highlighting the advantages, and then weigh them against the disadvantages.

Advantages of Running Barefoot

• Might improve balance

• Strengthens and engages the small muscles of the foot

• Encourages you to use the right technique while running

• Strengthens your gait

• May improve proprioception


If you like to run barefoot consider using barefoot soles to protect your feet a bit. Custom Orthotics may also help to provide the benefits that going barefoot does without the risk of injury .

Disadvantages of Running Barefoot

• Places strain on the calf and Achilles tendinitis

• Increases susceptibility to injuries, blisters and pain

• No foot protection which increases susceptibility to injury from glass, stones, etc

• Takes a while to get used to

• It’s really not necessary to run barefoot if you do not have any existing feet or leg problems

Deciding to go barefoot is not really necessary if you are not struggling with any leg or foot issue or pain. Moreover, it is recommended to visit a foot doctor who is likely to prescribe orthotics to help relieve pain and treat other foot problems. Given that running barefoot predisposes you to immediate injury, you might end up worsening the problem instead of making it better.

Podiatrists from Wasatch Foot and Ankle Institute are known to place the concerns of their patients first. With a number of years under their belt, they’ve managed to garner experience and knowledge necessary for providing effective consultation and treatment for their patients.

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