Benefits of Running in Minimalist / Barefoot Running Shoes

March 31, 2012

Running shoes with thickly cushioned heels have only been in use since the mid-1960s Humans have been running barefoot or in thin-soled shoes for thousands of years Actually, new studies are now showing that the “support” and “cushioning” that contemporary running shoes provide actually causes our stride to change in ways that can result in injury, rather than prevent it.

The truth is that many of the injuries and aches that you may be experiencing as a runner could be eased or even eliminated by making the switch to a more minimalist running shoes. Some of the benefits of switching to a minimalist running shoes are:

Correct your stride – When wearing traditional shoes, most runners strike the ground with the heels and then push off the toes. This sends the shock of impact up the legs and into the shins, knees, hips, and back. In contrast, runners wearing light or no shoes usually hit the ground with the outside part of the balls of the feet, or their mid-foot, and then roll their foot inwards. This action not only reduces the suddenness of the impact, but shifts the force to the arch of your foot, which acts as a natural shock absorber. This is how humans have run for thousands of years and this how our feet were meant to work.

Pain-free running – With the shock of impact now being absorbed by the arch of your foot, your ankles, knees, and hips are now freed from the stress they were under. Unlike feet, these bones and joints were not designed for repeated impact, as anyone with an artificial knee can confirm. With the removal of this unnatural stressor and a more natural impact distribution, it won’t be long until your body is thanking you.

Improved balance – As you can imagine, the switch in stride causes some pretty significant changes to your feet Small muscles that are usually left idle while bundled up in running shoes are now activated. The change also awakes muscles in your ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination. As these muscles strengthen, you’ll find that your body is better able to adapt to differences in surface and help you keep your balance.

Reduced risk of varicose veins. The newly-strengthened muscles in your feet will also help your blood to flow more efficiently up your legs.

No more blackened, deformed toes. When running with a heel-first stride, it’s hard to avoid the impact of your toes in your shoes as your feet slide from front to back. But, with a more natural stride, your poor toes will no longer be pummeled.

Reduced risk of overtraining/straining. With barefoot shoes, your feet are no longer artificially protected and will let you know sooner if something is going wrong.

Be connected with the ground. Many barefoot and minimalist runners cite this as their favorite aspect of running. With barefoot running shoes, you become more aware of the surface beneath your feet and can react to it. Each stride allows you to connect and respond to your environment. Yes, this reason is a bit more ethereal, but for the spiritually-minded runner, this experience can be the icing on the cake.

With all the benefits to be gained, it’s easy to understand why so many have made the switch to barefoot running shoes. It’s a change you’ll need to make slowly, but is well worth the effort. To get started figuring out which shoes would be best for you go to and click on the Popular Brands tab. If you’d like to check out some hard evidence on the benefits of barefoot running, head to the Articles & Publications section. Have a favorite barefoot brand already? Keep an eye on the Deal Finder! section so you never miss a deal on the net. .

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