Your running biomechanics is different when running barefoot than it is in cushioned running shoes. It’s actually very interesting how little cushioned, motion control stability running shoes does for your running form. Yet, biomechanical changes imposed by barefoot running is related to better running form because the increased sensory perception governs conscious and unconscious decisions on safer landing strategies.
How Barefoot Running Improves Running Biomechanics
For me, running shoes was a major source of distress in that they always made my legs sore, which was due to the fact that heel striking and other abnormal biomechanics was largely the products of cushioned running shoes. It’s difficult to sense the ground in running shoes and when barefoot runners are put to the test, they almost always show better, safer biomechanics as compared with shod runners. Here are the variety of positive biomechanical changes imposed by barefoot running:
Better Knee and Ankle Function – A higher gear ratio of the lower leg makes the knees and ankles more mechanically efficient in barefoot runners than in shod runners.
Minimal to No Shock-Wave Propagation – Enhanced global plantar awareness forces a barefoot runner to make adjustments in foot strike and knee flexion to land lighter, thus generating less impact as compared with running in shoes.
Less Foot Pronation – Running shoes have been known to force the feet into extreme positions during running, which can be damaging to the Achilles tendon. Because there is no compressible material between the foot and the ground when running barefoot, the feet are less likely to undergo abnormal pronation.
Better Reflexes – Bad running form persists because running shoes block proprioception — a form of communication between the nerves of the feet and the brain. Proprioception plays a big role in improving landing reflexes when running barefoot.
If you are new to barefoot running, here are other tips to keep in my mind during your journey:
Better to Run Barefoot on Pavement than Grass
Most Popular Barefoot Running Learning Resources
Why You Got Injured When Running Barefoot
Easy Guide to Barefoot Running on Pavement
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.