Does Barefoot Running Really Cure Plantar Fasciitis?
When it comes to barefoot running, different folks have mixed reactions on the topic. Some like it; others hate it. The reasons behind these reactions are pretty overwhelming.
You’ll often hear some people say that barefoot running helps build stronger muscles. Others say that it causes foot injuries.
But one recent study seems to change everything about barefoot running. The study claims that barefoot running decreases your chance of suffering from the foot injury by 4%.
The study goes on to explain that running in your shoes raises the risk of plantar fasciitis by modifying the transfer of shock to your muscles and the supporting structure…
So, is barefoot running just some marketing hype or is there a real deal behind it?
Join me as I explain to you all the benefits and drawbacks associated with this shoeless activity.
After reading the following information, you’ll make a better stand regarding running barefoot.
What are The Benefits of Barefoot Running?
Strengthening of Ligaments, Muscles, and Tendons.
As opposed to when you enclose your feet in a sports shoe. In a well-researched report presented at a science conference in 2005, 50 athletes were divided into two groups to undergo a 5-month training program.
One group was given the Nike Free shoe (a minimalist shoe) while the other group got the traditional training shoe. Both sides were supposed to use the provided shoes only for warm-ups only and not full-time.
Measurements of the strengths of their various muscles were taken before and after the five months duration.
The results from this study were mind-blowing…
Athletes who used the minimalist shoe showed significant gains in the strength of both the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of their feet unlike in the other group.
Stronger intrinsic/extrinsic foot muscles mean an improved overall foot health- smile! And this means a plantar fasciitis-free life.
On top of this, you’ll develop a more natural gait.
Helps Stretch the Achilles Tendons and Calf Muscles
One of the top causes of plantar fasciitis is having too tight Achilles tendons as well as the calf muscles. Fortunately, running barefoot can help stretch these muscles and thus keep your foot fit and free from plantar fasciitis.
How barefoot running does this? Well, when you lose your shoes, you’ll also lose the heel lift that’s associated with them. The absence of heel lift means more stretching and strengthening opportunities for Achilles and calf muscles.
Consequently, there will be zero cases of staring in these muscles, and you’ll be free from plantar fascia.
Experience Improved Balance and Proprioception
If you continue hating on the minimalist shoes, you’ll never know the true meaning of balance and proprioception. Various studies have pointed out that going barefoot activates the smaller muscles in your feet, legs, ankles, and hips, which are responsible for giving you better balance as well as coordination.
Surprisingly, people who wear minimalist shoes have come out to explain their new, overwhelming experience when it comes to balance.
Stay Grounded to your Running Environment
Aside from offering you the ultimate balance, barefoot running does something else more amazing… It helps you stay grounded or connected with your environment. You can easily learn to spread your toes and expand your foot while it becomes a more stable base that supports all the movements.
Other benefits of barefoot running include:
- As a barefoot runner, you’ll develop forefoot strike, which is more efficient, and makes you less susceptible to impact injuries that result from landing on your heel.
- The activity also cultivates lighter strides unlike the heavy cladding associated with wearing shoes.
- And, of course, running barefoot will bring you back to your original, more fundamental self. It’s a natural feeling that’s absolutely grounding.
So, if you are convinced enough about barefoot running, here's a complete guide to help you get started:
What are The Cons of Running Barefoot?
Barefoot running also comes with some potential negatives which we’ll discuss below…
Slow Adaptation Phase Required
Running barefoot or wearing the minimalist shoe isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can turn out to be a shock to your foot, and your muscles will feel overworked initially.
For some people, this could lead to muscle strains as the heel lift is done away with. Thus, the shoeless activity calls for a gradual adaptation phase.
Your Foot is Less Protected
This is evident: when you transit from a running shoe, your foot will suffer less protection from ground debris e.g. nails, rocks, glass, thorns, etc.
Your shoe will also be affected by frostbite in snow and ice. Your feet will not enjoy insulation in cold weather. Other adverse effects of barefoot running:
- Most people who start wearing the minimalist shoe will experience blisters in the first few weeks until calluses form.
- The bottom surface of your feet is soft and tender. As a result, wearing a stiff-soled shoe might cause pain initially and in some cases increase the risk of plantar fasciitis!
There are also some criticisms saying that barefoot running isn’t truly running barefoot. They urge that there’s less sensory feedback from the feet bottom since you’re still wearing some shoe.
Despite all the ongoing debate on running barefoot, many people are still rocking the barefoot running shoes. Interestingly, they’re coming back with loads of testimonials on how they benefit from these type of shoes.
They admit that the shoes give them a more natural feeling minus the hardness and the rocks. Their feet feels lighter, with a better feel of the terrain.
The flatter shoes cure most of their shin, knee, and back splints. There are also personal claims of improved performance. The remaining lot who have a wrong view of these shoes admit that they’ve never tried these shoes, meaning they don’t have an experience of what they truly hold.
In conclusion, barefoot running is a matter of personal choice. You may also want to try this out and see whether it work for you.