Barefoot running is also known as “natural running” and is done without footwear or with thin-soled shoes. Those who support barefoot running claim that not only will running sans shoes correct a runner’s form, but will lead to fewer injuries. Barefoot running is the way running began, and there are entire cultures that still embody this practice. The Tarahumara of Mexico still run barefoot, and in 1960, Ethiopian athlete, Abebe Bikila won his first gold medal without shoes and set a world record in the process.
While barefoot running might not be for everyone, there are those that swear by this natural method of dashing without shoes across the surface of this earth. Developing a more natural pace is one benefit of barefoot running, and it also helps strengthen the tendons, muscles, and ligaments of the foot. Running barefoot is also excellent for better balance. It increases balance by activating the smaller muscles in the feet that do not receive attention when encased in shoes. Ankles, legs, and hips all get stronger when connecting with the ground when running barefoot.
Running barefoot also helps you to connect more deeply with the natural environment around you. Through this natural connection to the earth, it is possible to become more grounded and aware of our surroundings. Expanding your foot and spreading your toes will become a natural part of your stride as you gain a closer relationship to the earth under your feet.
Our feet were literally designed to work without shoes, and running is no exception. In countries such as Kenya, marathon runners are able to run extreme distances without shoes with little or no injury. In developing countries where running shoes are obsolete, bone and connective tissue injuries in the legs are highly uncommon and less likely to occur than in more developed nations that are prone to wearing running shoes.
Another aspect of barefoot running is in concern to “grounding.” Also known as earthing, health benefits are gathered as the soles of your feet connect with the negative electrons of the earth. It is in absorbing these negative electrons that we receive powerful antioxidants that allow a greater anti-inflammatory effect within the body. It is through running barefoot that we have the ability to connect deeply to the earth’s energy and restore balance to our entire system.
Although debated, the benefits of barefoot running add to our body’s natural tendencies. We are from the earth, and this connection without shoes striding over the earth’s surface brings us closer in touch to our natural rhythms, helps prevent injury, and is an extremely valuable aspect of a healthy lifestyle. When you start try barefoot running to experience the amazing benefits it provides, it is advisable to start slow. Begin by walking without shoes, and increase to quarter mile runs until your feet become used to the bare ground under their soles. Once incorporated into your life, you may find yourself going without shoes more and more as you connect deeply with the earth’s natural energy and begin to feel the benefits barefoot running conveys.
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