New study shows running barefoot may be better for your body

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 27, 2010 3:22 pm

In a new study conducted by Daniel Lieberman and colleagues of Harvard University, it is reported that running barefoot is better on your body than running in nice cushy shoes.

Yes, we’re aware this isn’t about skiing per say, but here at The Ski Channel we’re all about outdoor activity in general. When it’s not snowing, running up and down the mountain is also quite fun (and gets you in good shape for the next ski season).

Anywho, these scientists claim that when you run barefoot, you run how you would naturally run. That is to say…how our ancestors ran. When running barefoot, you land on the ball of your foot. When you have a cushioned shoe on, you don’t have to be as careful when you run, so you absent-mindedly land on your heel. This provides a much greater impact collision, sending more shock waves and strain through your legs and back.

Lieberman said, “People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike. By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike. Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot.”

In the study, barefoot runners were found to have a springier step and use their leg muscles more efficiently.

If this is something you’re thinking of pursuing, do it slowly. Lieberman added, “If you’ve been a heel-striker all your life, you have to transition slowly to build strength in your calf and foot muscles.”

Going on that whole ancestor thing argument, he added “Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s.”

We’d love to hear from you guys. What do you think of this? Any people in the running shoe business have another side to the argument?