The next time you go out for a run, try leaving your shoes at home. Proponents say it'll give you a better stride, stronger calf muscles, and... well, a bunch of calluses. But the benefits will likely outweigh the calluses.
Photo by shoothead.
The idea of running barefoot may seem crazy to some, but Harvard professor Daniel E. Lieberman tells Science Daily it's part of our evolutionary history. After all, our ancestors didn't chase down a wildebeest while wearing a pair of Nikes. Your feet may not need as much cushioning while running as you think, and may actually help your foot strike the ground in a less jarring way.
'People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike,' says Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and co-author of a paper appearing this week in the journal Nature. 'By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike. Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world's hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot. Further, it might be less injurious than the way some people run in shoes.'
Of course, not everyone is convinced that barefoot running is wise. You've got all kinds of things to look out for when you're bounding along on the asphalt: glass, rocks, uneven pavement, cracks and so on. Running on grass may be no better because you never know what's hiding amid the blades: more glass, bottle caps, dog... well, you get the idea.
Some runners swear by Vibram barefoot running shoes, but many others have told us they'll never give up structured shoes for their daily jog. What about you? Would you trot down the street barefoot or are you all about running with sturdy, thick-soled shoes. Let us know in the comments.