Well I wanted to write this for long now but didn’t get the time.
I talked to many of my friend who run quite frequently, I asked them if they face any problem because of running. Almost everyone said that they have some problem or the other, some say their knee hurts, or the shin hurts, some say they have ankle sprain and some have Jogger’s heel (condition when the heel hurts) as well as other chronic injuries of the lower limb.
Humans were born to run. Running is in our nature, the early men used to run long distance while hunting and got the animals so tired that they collapsed. If running comes out natural to us then why are we are getting so many problems because of running.
Do some small tests :-
Test 1. Try to run barefoot for a small distance (even in your room) just to see what will your natural running would be like, you will probably be landing on your forefoot first, if you land on the heel you might feel some pain.
The reason for which I think our natural way to run is to land on the forefoot first is to save our feet (heel) from injury.
Test 2. Do one more test, try to balance only on your heels and then jump, how high can you jump, well you cannot, conversely if you are on your forefoot you can jump. So if you run with your forefoot landing first, then if you step on some sharp thing then you can jump and protect yourself.
Now think of this scenario, you are wearing a trendy shoes with cushions, now even if you land on your heel first then you wouldn’t feel any pain and so you will tend to run that way, but in the process you will be giving strain to those parts of the body which are not used to it and which are not naturally made for it. Gradually you will be starting some chronic pain, pain in the shin, on the knee, ankle problems etc.
Lets try to explain it in a scientific way (sourced from wikipedia).
The structure of the human foot and lower leg is very efficient at absorbing the shock of landing and turning the energy of the fall into forward motion, through the springing action of the foot’s natural arch. Scientists studying runners’ foot motions have observed striking differences between habitually shod (past tense of shoe) runners and barefoot runners. The foot of habitually shod runners typically lands with an initial heel strike, while the foot of a barefoot runner lands with a more springy step on the middle, or on the ball of the foot. Forefoot strike, shorter step duration, higher rate and higher muscle pre-activation are techniques to reduce stress of repetitive high shocks. This avoids a very painful and heavy impact, equivalent to two to three times the body weight. “People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike”, said Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and co-author of a paper appearing in the journal Nature. “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.”
Some of the findings of scientific researches in running
However, running shoes also provide several advantages, including protection of the runner from puncture wounds, bruising, thermal injuries from extreme weather conditions, and overuse injuries.
The alternative to going barefoot is to wear thin shoes with minimal padding. This is what people wore for thousands of years before the 1980s when the “modern running shoe” was invented.
Transitioning to a barefoot running style also takes time to develop, due to the use of different muscles involved. Doctors in the United States have reported an increase in such injuries as pulled calf muscles, Achilles tendinitis, and metatarsal stress fractures, which they attribute to barefoot runners attempting to transition too fast.
If you are going to start barefoot running then start it gradually. Go for small distance first,after some time you will form the thick skin (callus) and then you wouldn’t feel anything.
Always stay aware that you have to land on your toes.