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Should You Practice Barefoot Running?

It was the 1960 Rome Olympics. Marathon runners were at the starting line when they noticed a barefoot man ready to start the race. One runner sneered, “There’s one we can beat” and they laughed. Slightly over two hours later, they weren’t laughing anymore. Barefoot runner Abebe Bikila not only became the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal, he also set a new world record.

Proponents of barefoot running claim the extra weight of shoes slows them down. Some studies support this theory and show that the extra weight of shoes requires more energy to pick the foot up and push it forward. Nike set out to disprove this theory.

The University of Colorado chose 12 experienced barefoot runners and put them in the Nike Flyweight, a light-weight running shoe. Each runner ran multiple times on a treadmill with and without shoes.

For eight of the runners, running with the lightweight shoes was more efficient than running barefoot. The theory is that running barefoot puts stress on the lower leg and foot as the foot hits the ground. The leg muscles work to contract and this requires energy. Shoes provide a cushion that relieves the stress, minimizes the exertion and allows the runner to run slightly faster.

The study only evaluated efficiency of running, not whether shoes provide safety from injury.

Getting Professional Treatment

It is always our express intent to recommend that you take no chances with foot pain, ankle or knee pain, or injuries. Professional treatment to relieve the pain is available from doctors such as Delray Beach’s Dr. Ian Goldbaum of Delray Beach Podiatry, who has provided us with this blog. If the pain continues, a podiatrist with Dr. Goldbaum’s experience should be consulted. You must get proper treatment to prevent permanent damage.

Our Staff writers are freelance writers with higher education related to, or experience researching and writing for, medical blogs; with education or experience equal to under graduate and graduate degrees in the fields of medicine. photo credit: mhs72reunion via photo pin cc

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