barefoot running

Inspired by Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, I've been running barefoot for short distances--usually about 1/2 mile, as terrain and temperature allow. I've gotten a few odd looks, but even these short runs have had a positive effect on my shod running. My base mileage continues to increase as my long runs get longer--and, more importantly, I'm still injury-free!

I don't attribute this solely (no pun intended) to my barefoot jaunts, except insofar as they've been forcing me into running more lightly: with a faster tempo, shorter strides, and a footstrike that's become less heel and more midfoot. That's essentially the running style suggested by both Danny Dreyer's Chi Running and Nicholas Romanov's Pose Technique, but I haven't investigated them in detail yet. I'm still experimenting with various Injinji toe socks, and the Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) shoes are probably next on my horizon.

Because I tend to over-research everything, I've been devouring nearly every barefooting resource that I could find. Here are some of them:

"Barefoot running" (Wikipedia)

"You Walk Wrong" (NY Magazine) identifies "the shoe paradox:"

We've come to believe that shoes, not bare feet, are natural and comfortable, when in fact wearing shoes simply creates the need for wearing shoes. [...] Shoes are bad. I don't just mean stiletto heels, or cowboy boots, or tottering espadrilles, or any of the other fairly obvious foot-torture devices into which we wincingly jam our feet. I mean all shoes. Shoes hurt your feet. They change how you walk.

The paper "Shod vs. Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?" concludes:

The results presented here suggest that the unshod lifestyle of the pre-pastoral group was associated with a lower frequency of osteological modification. The influence of modern lifestyle including the use of footwear, appears to have some significant negative effect on foot function, potentially resulting in an increase in pathological changes. (p. 212)

Tim Ferriss posts some disturbing photos of shoe-altered feet

Wired ran several good articles: "These Toes Are Made for Running," "Your Shoes Are Killing Your Feet," and "To Run Better, Start by Ditching Your Nikes"

"Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants" (NYT) discusses the shoe industry's "move toward minimalism"

Clynton proclaims at Running Quest that barefoot running is "Not Just for Bums and Hippies Anymore" and also includes a great list of minimalist shoes that are not quite as extreme as the VFFs.

Michael Warburton "Barefoot Running" at SportScience (h/t: tmso)

"Lose Your Shoes: Is Barefoot Better?" (Neuroanthropology)

"The Roving Runner Goes Barefoot" and "Is Barefoot Running Better for You?" (NYT)

Barefoot Running Shoes
Barefoot Ted
Living Barefoot
Running Barefoot
Society for Barefoot Living


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ooh shiny! Great list of resources. Thanks for sharing your research!

Have you heard of Feelmax Shoes or Kigo at all? They're 2 barefoot technology brands I don't hear mentioned much but are both excellent.

there's also the nike free shoes that are very popular.. they've been compared to the vibram shoes you mentioned as well as the new balance, both links are below for those who are interested:

Thanks for the mention, and gathering a good deal of great resources here. If anyone's interested in trying barefoot running, I'd love you to join me on my 12 Step Program to Run Shodless. I designed the program to avoid injury after reading how so many people did too much too soon. Let me know what you think:

Great list of resources! I'll have to especially read about the Chi Running and Pose Technique. I still haven't taken the plunge, but will try it on the next warm day. Thanks!

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