By Chiropractor Dr Billy Chow
Have you noticed anything different these days at your local running events? Take a quick look around when you’re next lining up at the start line. You’ll notice people with their limbs wrapped in medical-grade compression garments to help improve their performance and recovery.
Most of them will also have some form of GPS technology strapped to their wrists that would rival any NASA navigation system and I’m sure you’ll also spot a whole lot of those multi-miniature-bottled hydration systems around the waists of the weekend warrior – just in case they become dehydrated and start hitting the dreaded wall on their 5km run! I digress, what I’m observing more often at the start line is an increase in runners sans shoes.
For even the bravest of souls, the thought of having only a layer of skin between you and the pavement can make you feel a little uneasy and cautious. So how safe is running barefoot and are there any benefits?
The jury is still out on whether one should run with (shod) or without (unshod) shoes. There are arguments on both sides of the debate. However current research has given barefoot running more credibility than it’s large-cushioned heeled counterparts would like. A paper published in the international journal of sports medicine last year which tested 35 runners in bare feet, showed barefoot running was not only less stressful on joints but was also effective in absorbing energy and re-releasing it, thus allowing more efficient running.
A paper published last year showed barefoot running was not only less stressful on joints but was also effective in absorbing energy and re-releasing it, thus allowing more efficient running.
To rub salt into the wounds of the unconverted and their belief that expensive highly cushioned runners provide more shock absorption and support, a study done in 2008, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed no scientific evidence supporting injury prevention from specially designed shoes.
In other words, spending big dollars on designer shoes, may not be worth the cash.
Dr. Billy Chow is a chiropractor and human performance mentor at the Vitality and Wellbeing Centre. His passion is to help people understand they were designed to be extraordinary and to provide easy and effective health strategies to do that. When he’s not chasing after his three kids, Billy is a long-distance runner and Crossfitter.
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