Barefoot running (or pseudo-barefoot running) has become the new trend in Melbourne. Lots of people are ditching their expensive, heavy, bulky running shoes to run the more "natural way."
Aside from the obvious temperature-related concerns that go with bare feet at this time of year, there are other injury factors that you need to weigh-up when it comes to running sans shoes.
On the surface, this seems like a good idea: a lighter shoe means less strain on the hamstrings, a more flexible sole means less resistance against the movements of the foot, and less strain on the calf, a thinner sole means better balance. These are all great things, but what's the cost?
The cost is impact absorption and structural support. A shoe with arch support will prevent subluxation of the bones of the foot and the subsequent spasms of the foot muscles. A shoe with a contoured sole will allow for rapid transition from heel to toe while running, thus minimising the resistance on the calf muscles and muscles of the foot. A shoe with a thick sole will absorb impact from running and prevent stress fractures in the ankle/feet as well as subluxation of the ankle.
If you want to know whether barefoot running is the right option for you, then you need to weigh-up the benefit against the cost.
If you're prone to hamstring strains but have no foot/ankle or calf complaints, then maybe go barefoot. If you're prone to stress fractures, and have no issues with your hamstrings or balance, then stick to supportive running shoes.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to running, so all you can do is consult the experts and try it out for yourself.
If you want more information on bare-foot running, email me directly via the contact page. If you want specific information about your own injury or if you're after treatment for an injury, contact one of my clinics directly to make an appointment. Details of those clinics can be found here.
Dr Mitch Clark