People run or jog for many different reasons. Whether you are running because you simply love getting your heart rate up or you are training for a half marathon, you want to get the most out of your training. Barefoot running has taken the cardio world by storm and that’s due to its potential health benefits and natural performance advantages. If you are trying to shave a few seconds off your 10k time, go that extra kilometre on your morning jog or increase your sprinting time, barefoot running could help you get there.
Barefoot running isn’t an inherent performance enhancer but rather a promoter. You won’t put the Running trainers on and suddenly run the fastest 10k of your life but overtime the benefits will show through.
Researchers have found that heel strikes when running are a result on padding on modern shoes and landing on the back of the foot slows you down with every stride. Research from a 2009 study and Podiatrist, Kevin Kirby stated in Runner’s World has found that Trainers, regardless of shape or weight will reduce performance because of the weight and elastic energy absorbed by the Running shoes.
Barefoot running forces you to land on the forefoot rather than the heel so that you get the gains back on the front of your foot rather the heel. This does not mean that you will be running your next marathon in ballet flats and on your toes but rather the time your foot spends on the ground is shortened resulting in quicker strides when combined with good posture.
Barefoot running is relatively new and while there is a need for more studies and research on the benefits of barefoot running, there is substantial data that offers lending support that runners should use forefoot strike parents to reduce ground reaction forces, step length, lowered muscular effort and ground contact time.
Many running enthusiast have turned to barefoot running to improve their performance and have a safer and more natural running experience. If you decide to start training au-natural then it’s important for every individual to slowly introduce barefoot running into training. Partially because you want to build up the exterior skin and condition your feet for barefoot running. Additionally, modern Trail running shoes have elevated heels, which can shorten the calves up to 2cm, and it’s important to gradually introduce the shortened calf to function with a longer muscle.
Runners who are looking for instant improvement can risk injury so take the time to make the transition to barefoot running to truly reap the benefits.