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Addressing The Issues Of The Barefoot Running Argument

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Jun. 13, 2011
  • Updated Feb. 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM UTC

What this means to you:

  1. Barefoot running might be more energetically expensive than cushioned running, regardless of injury risk.
  2. Forefoot striking, not barefoot running, reduces the shock experienced upon impact with the ground.
  3. Barefoot running puts massive additional stresses on the posterior tibial compartment (Achilles tendon and calf muscles) because it is working to cushion impact with the ground. This can lead to injury in runners that aren’t accustomed to it.
  4. This additional stress makes barefoot running a great training tool. It subjects the body to this increased load and introduces a new and highly specific type of strength training that most people have never experienced because typical running shoes prevent it.
  5. Some shoes are designed to help runners strike the ground with their mid-foot or forefoot, while others tend to promote heel striking. If you aspire to a mid- or forefoot striking gait, shoes with a low rise from the toe to the heel can help. Shoes such as the Saucony Kinvara, New Balance Road Minimus and the new Newton MV2 provide different levels of cushioning but all have very little or no lift in the heel. This type of shoe helps the runner strike forward on the foot, thereby preserving some of the softer landing experienced when barefoot running, without sacrificing the reduction in cost of cushioning and other benefits of traditional shoes.

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About The Author:

Aaron Hersh is the Senior Tech Editor for Triathlete Magazine.

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FILED UNDER: Barefoot Running / Features TAGS: / / / / / / / /

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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