barefoot-running-marymoore-003.jpgYou may not know this, but running in the $100+ pair of running shoes may actually be hurting your body!

There is a movement among runners to go back to running without shoes – barefoot running.

A recent study in the journal Nature (reviewed by Science Daily) gives support to the experience many have had:

Most shod runners — more than 75 percent of Americans — heel-strike, experiencing a very large and sudden collision force about 1,000 times per mile run. People who run barefoot, however, tend to land with a springy step towards the middle or front of the foot.

“Heel-striking is painful when barefoot or in minimal shoes because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground,” says co-author Madhusudhan Venkadesan, a postdoctoral researcher in applied mathematics and human evolutionary biology at Harvard. “Barefoot runners point their toes more at landing, avoiding this collision by decreasing the effective mass of the foot that comes to a sudden stop when you land, and by having a more compliant, or springy, leg.”

It seems that when you’re landing on your heel, the way that running shoes are designed to be used, you are exerting a force 2-3 times your body weight on your heel – that’s 2-3 times your body weight 1000 steps a mile, give or take a few steps.

A few companies are coming out with shoes to help move back to barefoot funning.  Vibram has its Fivefingers, and Nike has its Free.