Your Healthy Family

Apr 17, 2013 10:52 AM by Marissa Torres

Should you make the switch to barefoot running?

It's the great foot debate among runners. Is it better to go barefoot, or nearly barefoot when hitting the pavement Maybe you've seen these slimmed down running shoes that look more like gloves for your feet- but are they better than the traditional cushioned tennis shoe?

John Morris swears by his five toe shoes.

"I've taken time, a minute off my mile it used to take 7:15 to run a mile... 6 flat now."

He made the switch 4 years ago and refuses to go back to a typical running shoe.

"My legs have gotten a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger over years of using these."

The toe separating shoes mimic barefoot running by providing less support and forcing a more natural running style, which means landing on the front of your foot instead of striking the heel.

"If you change the mechanics in the foot, that's the first thing that hits the ground, sort of a shock absorber, that's going to change what happens at the knee, the hip and even low back," says physical therapist Joe Ruzich, with Southern Colorado Clinic.

Ruzich says he'll often suggest runners make the switch to toe shoes in an effort to reduce injuries and says the shoes can also benefit someone who's struggled with weak ankles or flat feet.

"What if your foot is flat because your muscles have gotten so weak from having that artificial support all the time."

But before making the switch-a word of warning.

"Most people, they'll get a barefoot shoe and they'll go and run 4 miles because they ran 4 miles in their old shoes. Well probably not a good idea, you should wean into that.. maybe a half a mile at first."

Keep in mind-- these shoes are not for everyone. Some people need more support or an insole when they run. You'll want to see a doctor or physical therapist before making the switch.



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