Maybe it’s a sense of pride, thinking that you’re special and stronger and different and don’t need to take things slow or do things the way people tell you should do them. Reference: 2 Runners Not Changing Their Landing Style in Barefoot Running.

Perhaps you have heard of these barefoot running shoes. At the very least you most likely have seen one person wearing shoes that have toes, either 4 or 5. One of the largest proponents of barefoot running (and what brought yours truly to personal conversion) was this book written by a man who witness a group of people who were running 100 miles without shoes—or pain.

Personal story: Last summer, after work one day I dropped by the soccer field where my husband was playing a pick-up game with some of the kids from our team. I had been wearing flip-flops. I wanted to play, and so I played barefoot. It was the best soccer I had ever played! But I noticed I had spent a lot of time on my toes, and my calves were quite sore the next day. So when I read an article about the above mentioned book, and numerous studies on the pros and cons of each style I had a ‘duh’ moment. A couple of years ago, I was running a lot, and there came a day that I had to stop midway through my run and limp home—my knee was in too much pain to put weight on it (I was only 20, so it wasn’t old age!). If I kept my knees bent for too long, or straight for too long, it hurt to shift their position. So I stopped running. And I missed it. I took up jumping rope and walking. However, as a personal testimony to barefooting it, I wore my barefoot shoes while walking Rome (we did about 10 miles in 2 days) and while being ‘experienced hikers’ through the Cinque Terre (5 hours of hiking); I could feel the tiny muscles in my feet working harder than ever, but the next day I was far less sore than my husband and brother, who had done it all in tennis shoes. The wonderous design and adaptations of the human body!

See, running barefoot forces you to land on the sole of your foot, called forefoot striking (FFS), just like in jumping rope. Doing so keeps all your leg joints aligned, and your arches, achilles tendons, and calves are shock absorbers that take in the force of impact and then use it to propel you onwards…like a natural spring.

With traditional shoes, you land on your heel, which jolts your body into a halt. As you roll along your foot to push off your toes, you re-start your motion…like walking. Landing on your heels creates a large amount of torque in your ankles, knees and hips, and subsequently your core.

Alignment of each style of landing.

Now, many many runners heel-strike for years without a problem. However, heel-striking while barefoot creates problems. (PS It’s quite possible to FFS while wearing cushiony shoes!)

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Unless you’re like me and you believe that our bodies have evolved/been designed (whatever your inclinations of belief) to work just fine without man-made contraptions for those healthy enough to carry on the survival of the species (okay, that will only appeal to the believers of the first-mentioned system).

Point is though, whether you decide to explore barefoot running/walking/hiking, or tackling CrossFit, or plyometric training, or yoga, or powerlifting, you need to do so starting with baby steps, and don’t think you’re special enough to buck wisdom of the researchers that have worked hard to show you what will harm you and what will help you.

Don’t lift heavy without a spotter. If you’re not flexible, don’t do shoulder presses behind your head unless you want to tear your rotator cuff. Warm up before all exercises unless you want a pulled/torn muscle. and et cetera.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. But don’t leave your common sense behind.

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