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Barefoot running vs running shoes

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  • The benefits of "barefoot" running shoes

    Breaking in your "barefoot" running shoes

    According to The Economist, the footwear market for athletic trainers is a $17 billion industry. For decades, runners have sought the perfect gels, cushions and thick rubber sole comforts until a new
    According to The Economist, the footwear market for athletic trainers is a $17 billion industry. For decades, runners have sought the perfect gels, cushions and thick rubber sole comforts until a new shoe came out made of practically nothing.

Running barefoot is a trend that's really picking up speed. Supporters say it's better for you. So one study took a look at whether that's true or not.

Researchers at Harvard University say it has some benefits, like strengthening your feet. And running barefoot might actually use less energy than running with shoes. 

Fans also claim barefoot running prevents injuries. So a Taiwanese study tested that claim and sports medicine doctor Susan Joy says researchers found it's not what you wear that's most important – it's the physical mechanics.

Joy says, "The problem is that if you hit the ground really hard with your heel, that bone to bone contact there is not making use of all of the natural shock absorbers in the foot and the lower leg transmitting a lot of force up through the body and that can lead to injuries."

Whether a runner wore shoes or not, the study found that running on the front of your foot is best for your body.

"So, if you're thinking either a barefoot technology or a minimalist or a lighter weight shoe you just have to make sure you're paying extra attention to your gait. Because you can't take a less-efficient gait and just put those on and expect the shoe to make the changes. What the shoe does is it makes you concentrate more on how you're hitting the ground, which then, slowly over time allows you to adapt better to a new gait pattern," says Joy.

So a lighter shoe – or no shoe at all – may help you pay attention to the way you run.

The bottom line – it's not what you wear, it's the way you run.

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