The argument for running barefoot

July 16, 2009

From Wired Science:

“People have been running barefoot for millions of years and it has only been since 1972 that people have been wearing shoes with thick, synthetic heels,” said Daniel Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

Strong evidence shows that thickly cushioned running shoes have done nothing to prevent injury in the 30-odd years since Nike founder Bill Bowerman invented them, researchers say. Some smaller, earlier studies suggest that running in shoes may increase the risk of ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and other injuries. Runners who wear cheap running shoes have fewer injuries than those wearing expensive trainers. Meanwhile, injuries plague 20 to 80 percent of regular runners every year.

The author tried it. He (?) advises starting slow, no more than 10 percent barefoot running in a week. Here’s a barefoot strengthening program (.doc).

A related JR classic: The evolutionary origins of the New York City Marathon

[H/T: Gene Expression]

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