There has been a growing common thought among many people today that shoes and the barefoot movementfootwear cause more harm than good for feet.  This train of thought has caused large groups of like minded people to forgo shoes when engaging in any sort of outdoor activity.  More & more you will see people outside doing activities barefoot or in barefoot shoes.  Shoes like Vibram Five Fingers have become very popular with people that share this opinion.  What is this movement all about and does it have any actual credibility?

The theory is that when running and jogging became popular in the western world so did footwear such as sneakers and running shoes.  These shoes have been blamed for all types of related problems that arise in and around the foot.  Our feet are naturally designed to absorb the shock of running and falling through the design of the arch.  By wearing shoes with extra padding under the heel, we have trained ourselves to walk and run improperly by applying all the shock to the heel which in turn goes up the legs and knees.

It is the claim that flat feet, bunions, and other foot problems all arise from overly padded and constricting foot wear and the incorrect walking/running motions they train our feet for.  It is the theory that heel striking in running shoes causes more injuries than running barefoot and forefoot striking or mid-foot striking (landing with the ball or middle of the foot first before the heel).

Running and walking barefoot has many health claims:

  • Running barefoot will strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot and your arches will become more pronounced.  This can prevent hyperpronation and flat feet.
  • It uses less energy as you use the natural spring in your foot and calf muscles more to store and release energy.  This is a more energy efficient method of running.
  • You may reduce injuries to the Achilles tendon and calf muscles as they stretch and lengthen with each stride.
  • You may improve balance and coordination as the muscles that aid in balance become strengthened.

If you decide that barefoot running and walking is for you, you might want to try out a pair of barefoot style footwear.  Running and walking barefoot obviously does not protect against sharp rocks or glass and this can be dangerous.  There are several companies like Vibram Five Fingers that make footwear that mimic being barefoot with little to no padding and or by having separate compartments for each toe in the shoe.

Please Weigh In With Your Opinions On Going Barefoot
I (the webmaster) would like to know more about this from people that have actually done this.  The concept of engaging in active activities barefoot is very fascinating.  Do you love barefooting it on a regular basis?  Did you try it out and will now never go back to running shoes?  Did you try it out and hate it?  Do you think this is all quackery?  Weigh in with your comments below.