Christopher McDougall | Barefoot Running

Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run gave his opinion about how people’s desire to run might have evolved at a recent TED conference. Although Christopher McDougall covered a variety of topics on running during his TED presentation (including a heartwarming story about the marathoner Derartu Tulu, who was ready to retire from professional running, but instead beat Paula Radcliffe in the 2009 New York Marathon), it is his argument that people don’t benefit from running shoes that has caused a lot of buzz in the running community lately. McDougall argues that the natural human foot structure is already fit to run without protection because its design has been perfected through years of evolution.

Christopher McDougall’s position is backed up by recent research out of Harvard. In a study published in Nature, Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners, evidence indicated running barefoot might have lower shock/impact on our overall leg structure. In the study, barefoot runners experienced shock of only 0.5 to 0.7 times their human body weight. The impact was two to three times more for runners who wore shoes. The main difference was observed on foot landing. Shod runners landed on the heel of their foot while barefoot runners landed flatfooted or on the ball of their foot. Running barefoot, scientists suggest in the study, causes more bend in the foot’s spring and calls for more foot and calf muscle participation which causes less shock on the rest of the body making for more comfortable running strides.

What is your opinion about running without shoes? Let us know in the comments section below.