Are there really any benefits to barefoot running?
Studies into barefoot running have shown that unshod runners tend to land their stride on the ball of their foot or with a flat foot, whereas shod runners, possibly due the increased amount of support offered by modern running shoes, land on the heel of their foot. Over a period of time, in certain people, this pressure on the heel can lead to various problems, such as ankle sprains, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints and even back problems. Up to 30% of running enthusiasts are said to experience injuries relating to their running technique.
Madhusudhan Venkadesan, a postdoctoral researcher in applied mathematics and human evolutionary biology at Harvard who has been involved in detailed studies into the effects of barefoot running, writes that: "Heel-striking is painful when barefoot or in minimal shoes because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground. Barefoot runners point their toes more at landing, avoiding this collision by decreasing the effective mass of the foot that comes to a sudden stop when you land, and by having a more compliant, or springy, leg."