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The Green Life: Running Barefoot: Freeing Your Sole?

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January 07, 2011

Running Barefoot: Freeing Your Sole?

Running Barefoot Could the theory behind barefoot running actually have some merit? For years, mega shoe companies such as Nike and Adidas have profited off  runners’ reliance on fancy (and often expensive) footwear. But there continues to be mixed debate about shoes' effectiveness on runners' health and safety. Christopher McDougall’s bestseller, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen tracks the legacy of the legendary Tarahumara, an indigenous Mexican tribe whose people are known for running long distances wearing little to no footwear.

McDougall, a long-distance runner himself, has claimed in his book and in several interviews that, prior to running barefoot, he was more prone to injuries and heel pain. This seems counterintuitive, but “Barefoot Ken Saxon,” founder of RunningBarefoot.org, claims that feet are sensitive enough to let you know if you’re doing something stupid, and that wearing shoes actually could make your feet more prone to long-term damage.

Many runners have switched to running barefoot or are slowly making the transition by wearing “minimalist” shoes, such as the popular Vibram FiveFingers. Scientifically proven or not, barefoot running is certainly gaining momentum as an alternative way to run.

--Shirley Mak

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