Barefoot running has become a growing trend. It has gained a lot of popularity due to the publication of the book "Born to Run." This books talks about the story of the Native Mexican tribe who for centuries have been running without shoes at distances sometimes greater than the distance of a marathon.
People are heavily debating the issue of shoes vs. barefoot. "Born to Run" claims that the Tarahumara Indians are able to run great distances barefoot without being injured. They also claim that there is no proof that expensive running shoes are actually doing there job to prevent injuries. The book suggests that everyone should go back to how our earliest ancestors ran: barefoot.
Barefoot advocates claim that running shoes cause injurues and that it is more natural to run without shoes. Some say that you must be completly barefoot to reap the full benefits while others say it is best to wear a "minimalist shoe" that have thin soles and are lightweight.
So if Barefoot Running is so great how come there have not been more barefoot runners breaking the finishing tape at races. Are these athletes worried that if they trained barefoot they might injure themselves?
If runners ask me how I feel about barefoot running I tell them this:
There are many athletes and runners out there that do run with shoes and are not injured and have never had injuries. I tell my patients that if they want to try running barefoot that it would be safer running in a lightweight racing flat. If you do decide to run barefoot make sure you pick a soft surface. I also make sure to inform all my patients that there is no scientific evidence that barefoot running produces less injuries than running in shoes. Also the book focuses on a group of people that have been raised barefoot in their daily lives. Most of us have been in shoes since we were ambulatory, so due to this our skin toughness, muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones have developed differently.
No matter what you decide shoes or no shoes, be careful and remember if something hurts to seek medical attention.