What Happens To Your Body When You Run Barefoot

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Barefoot running has had rises and falls in popularity over the years, thanks to books like Born to Run and shoe companies changing their footwear offerings regularly. Some people swear by running barefoot, while others hate the concept. One thing is certain: Running barefoot will do different things to your body (especially your feet) compared to running with supportive footwear.

Running barefoot doesn't necessarily mean heading out of your house and onto the grass or trails not wearing any shoes: In recent years, barefoot shoes have become more common, ranging in design and style from shoes that look like normal shoes but have an ultra-thin sole to shoes that actually have spaces for each toe so you have full range of motion but some protection from the elements (via Very Well Fit).

Going barefoot means that your feet are doing more work, and your body is subjected to more stress. You might not feel like the foam in your old running shoes did much to make you more comfortable, but that foam does help take some pressure off of your joints and foot muscles as you pound the pavement (via StrengthRunning.com).

Should you start running barefoot?

Some barefoot running advocates believe that barefoot running will improve your foot strength and even make your gait and stride more efficient, while others are more skeptical and argue that barefoot shoes don't offer enough protection and may strain your calves.

If you're interested in trying barefoot running, to get started Jason Fitzgerald of StrengthRunning.com recommends simply getting used to being barefoot at home if you don't regularly spend time walking around the house sans shoes. Once you can comfortably walk barefoot, you can try running barefoot—but don't head out on your long run with barefoot shoes to start. Even a few minutes of running barefoot is a good starting point, and you can gradually progress from there if you want. And stick to softer surfaces like grass, sand, and dirt rather than running on the road, in order to prevent wear and tear on your body.