Most running shoes encourage runners to strike the ground with the heel first. The initial impact is then mainly absorbed through the heel with the leftover force spreading to the runner’s arch and then forefoot and toes.
Conversely, striking the ground with your forefoot first, as encouraged by barefoot running, allows the initial impact to spread more evenly throughout the entire foot. This can actually can strengthen feet muscles assisting in the prevention of many issues associated with the foot. One of the greatest benefits of barefoot running is increasing the power and the muscles of your arch.
Recent research has shown that running with the initial impact at the forefront (midfoot / ball) and then rolling to the back (heel) of the foot allows a more even distribution of the shock. Over time this leads to health benefits such as stronger arch muscles, with a potential reduction in injury.
A study at Harvard fueled a craze for barefoot running:
Making the transition from traditional running shoes to barefoot running can be a little daunting. In fact it can take your body up to six months to totally adjust to, and master, this form of running. Gently breaking into this form of running may be useful for those in the very early stages of Flatfoot or who are prone to such. While anyone trying this style should break into it slowly, most find it exhilarating to “re-learn” what many believe is nature’s intended form of running.
Harvard’s Dedicated Page To Bare Foot Running: http://barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/
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