Dr. Kenneth Weiss Weighs In on Barefoot Running

Historically, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear.  The natural gait is to land on the forefoot, which will absorb the shock of landing and turn the energy of the fall into forward motion, through the springing action of the foot’s natural arch.  Modern running shoes have thick, padded soles, which yield a different gait.  Only by placing large amounts of padding under the heel can humans land on the heel rather than on the ball of the foot.

The trend toward barefoot running is for relief from chronic injuries such as plantar fascitis, stress fractures and shin splints, which are thought to be linked to the trauma of striking the ground with the heel.  There are studies that show benefits of and demonstrate the different gaits between barefoot and shod running, though none are designed for a thorough comparison of the two.

Overall, I feel that barefoot running is more of a fad and will have a limited following in modern societies.

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