Barefoot running has been an emerging trend over the last few years and the big questions people are asking is "which is better for me, barefoot running or running in shoes?"
The answer to this is very simple, no-one knows as the research hasn't been done. But what is becoming more apparent though is, it is not about what is on your feet but more about the form you run with.
There are 3 types of runners, forefoot strikers (those who land on the balls of their feet first), mid foot strikers (those who land mid way between the balls of their feet and heel) and heel strikers (those who land on their heels first).
What we know is that forefoot strikers land with a lower impact peak (force that is created when the foot hits the ground), run with shorter strides and take more strides per minute than heel strikers. We also know the fastest runners in the world are forefoot strikers.
What traditional running shoes aim to do, is reduce that impact peak heel strikers create through an elevated cushioned heel pad. The trade off is, this cushion heel pad reduces the bodies ability to sense, receive and adapt to changing running terrain and surfaces. This usually results in a more ridged running style through the ankles and knees.
Natural barefoot runners are able to adapt better to the terrain they are running on, altering the angles of their ankles and knees which better absorbs the shock and impact. Reducing the shock and impact is important as some of these forces result in stress injuries to the body, but barefoot running also increases the load on the calf and plantar flexor muscles which can lead to achille's tendon problems.
There is no right or wrong shoe to wear or not wear, the most important aspect of running is good form. Forefoot running with the ability to sense and adapt to changes in the terrain via changing ankle and knee angles is very important. So too is the strength of the musculoskeletal system, to be able to sustain the loading through the calf and plantar flexor muscles.
So instead of spending long hours trying to work out which shoe best suits you, spend that time working on correcting your form and strengthening your musculoskeletal system. And remember that Chiropractors are well trained to help check and correct any joint or musculoskeletal problems you have in your toes, ankles, knees, hips and lower back.