Born This Way
Article by Jason Agosta
There is no doubt that there are benefits associated with barefoot running including less impact, less motion and strengthening benefits. But for most runners, running barefoot is too far from what most have adapted to wearing.
Similar benefits can be gained from thin-soled flexible footwear. For most runners, using thin, lightweight and low-profile shoes are enough to provide benefits.
But not all runners are likely to be able to easily re-adapt ‘back’ to lightweight and low-profile shoes and/or barefoot running. For most distance runners, at the age 38 years +/- 2 years is the time of highest rate of onset of overuse injuries and degenerative changes.
Most runners who are older, or have been running for at least 2 decades have acquired degenerative stiffness of the calves and deep posterior compartments of the lower leg. This is why there is a significant number of older runners who develop a history of calf, Achilles and plantar fascia pain of the foot.
Often the older runner who begins to run in low-profile lightweight footwear, or barefooted, often encounters tightness and injury of this ‘extensor loop’ of calf-Achilles-plantar fascia structure. This is due to the need for greater extension of the leg over the foot when the heel height is lower as compared to conventional footwear. Conventional footwear usually has greater heel height and therefore lessens the need for extension at the ankle.
As with any change, particularly with distance runners, a change of footwear to using low-profile and lightweight footwear should be done gradually starting with walking and few short runs.
What do you think?