Barefoot: to run or not to run?

Shelly Noland is a proponent of the new barefoot-style of running. She wears Vibrams, which mimic running barefoot while protecting the soles of the feet. Here, she rests after running with her running group at Minnehaha Academy, May 31, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Renee Jones Schneider/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

Shelly Noland is a proponent of the new barefoot-style of running. She wears Vibrams, which mimic running barefoot while protecting the soles of the feet. Here, she rests after running with her running group at Minnehaha Academy, May 31, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Renee Jones Schneider/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

Barefoot running has its pros and cons.

Christopher McDougall author of “Born to Run”, stated that barefoot running was the solution to all runners’ injuries because it is a natural way to run. However, some coaches say the opposite is true.

Palomar College cross country and women’s track and field coach Jennifer Williams said that in the coaching world you either love it or hate it.

“We are taught to walk, run and play with shoes. Our bodies have adapted to shoes,” Williams said. “Many who try the minimalist running get injured.”

Jessica McMahan, a Palomar student, said that she has seen people run barefoot.

“I used to run barefoot all the time,” McMahan said. “I’d start to do it again, it feels more natural for me.”

“I haven’t looked too much into (barefoot running). I know it is relatively controversial,” Palomar College Athletic Trainer Dennis Greenhill said. “I will sometimes suggest the use of deep sand as a rehab technique. The athlete will run, jump, jog, etc.”

“I think it is just another fad. There is some room in training for barefoot running but that is about it,” Hugh Gerhardt, assistant head coach of the cross country team said.

According to Runner’s World Online, when a person runs, they either naturally step on the front of their foot first or their heel. People who run striking the front of their foot first, adapt better to barefoot, or minimalist running because most of their weight is being rebounded against the ground. Whereas people who strike their heel first, absorb the impact through their legs which causes even more injuries if they try to run barefoot.

After the barefoot running movement started to spread, it brought to light the benefits of maximalist running.

McDougall asked in his book why we run? Running is hard and rigorous training that people either love or hate.

“We as a species run toward helping each other.” Greenhill said. “People are driven by the cause itself, not the activity per se with that in mind; people want to help but don’t know how.”

“I actually haven’t heard much about it,” Kim Winkenweeder, another student at Palomar, said. “I’ve seen people do it, but I wouldn’t try it.”

While views about minimalist running remain mixed, runners must decide for themselves how they run.

 

Author: Megan Bubak

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