Bare feet shoes allow for natural foot motions during stance in forefoot running. When forefoot running barefoot, we develop a better ability to control excessive foot motions during stance and over time, the neuromuscular system sets a strategy to control these motions so that we don’t get injured.
Bare Feet Shoes Allow Natural Foot Motions
When barefoot, the feet have a direct interaction with the ground, enabling the foot/ankle complex to manage motions better as compared with wearing cushioned running shoes where foot motions tend to be unpredictable during forefoot running. This is why it is critical to wear bare feet shoes –shoes that feel as if you are almost barefoot.
Most athletic footwear inadvertently restricts natural foot motions during running, and have proved to be problematic for runners. In these shoes, foot motions don’t behave the same way as compared to running barefoot, suggesting that cushioned running shoes are more likely to provoke injury.
Morio et al. found that thick, soft shoe cushioning restricted specific foot motions related to barefoot running. The motions that were restricted included forefoot adduction and abduction as well as eversion and inversion during the end of stance in running. Their study and others later, found that the stiffer, more cushy a running shoe is, the more natural foot motions were modified. These modifications resulted in greater rearfoot pronation which contributes to injury during running, suggesting that forefoot runners are better able to quickly improve their lower leg mechanics if they run in bare feet shoes, instead of cushioned running shoes.
Let the Feet Move On Their Own
Natural foot motions during forefoot barefoot running is under subconscious motor control –it just happens and does not require a conscious attempt to change it. Thus, these natural motions are reflexive and running barefoot or in bare feet shoes provides richer neural input for the these reflexes to work optimally.
Nonetheless, the solution for lower leg injury in forefoot running has to be barefoot running, or running in “bare feet shoes”. In support of this, the researchers concluded that restricting foot motions with a cushioned shoe, places greater internal stress on the foot, thereby significantly increasing the risk of foot injury, particularly stress fracture, during forefoot running. The best running shoes for forefoot runners are highly flexible, less constraining on the foot and allows the forefoot to expand during stance.
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Kadambande, S., Khurana, A., Debnath, U., Bansal, M., Hariharan, K., 2006. Comparative anthropometric analysis of shod and unshod feet. The Foot 16, 188–191.
Morio et al. The influence of footwear on foot motion during walking and running. J Biomech, 2009;42:2081-2088.
Zipfel, B., Berger, L.R., 2007. Shod versus unshod: the emergence of forefoot pathology in modern humans?. The Foot 17, 205–213.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.