Barefoot Running: August 21, 2011

Running is a way of life for Dan Whaley, who was an elite high school athlete.

“By the time I graduated I became one of the best runners in Florida, I had a couple rankings at some big invitationals throughout the years.”

He hits the road on a regular basis, but pounding the pavement looks different when he does it.

“This basically is a representation of the foot, the heel is the most narrow part, now right here is the broadest part this is where you should be running anyways,” says Whaley.

Dan took up barefoot-style running after an injury.

“This actually was the first shoe that I ran in since my knee surgery that did not hurt my knee.”

People are racing out to by minimal running shoes, nationwide sales are up 283%, but you may not want to toss your sneakers just yet.

“It’s a good idea in theory…” says Kath Kinross.

Kath is a runner and a physical therapist at Lee Center for Rehab and Wellness. She says people have become accustomed to running shoes, which compensate for poor form.

“Because we’ve got such high technology and cushioning under the feet now that you could be running landing on your heels for example which you’re not actually supposed to do. If you were to run barefoot like that, it would be incredibly painful every time you put your foot down,” says Kinross.

Research shows barefoot runners take shorter strides, which means more risk for missteps, but there is no data on which method causes fewer injuries. The entire Schwartz family is on the almost barefoot bandwagon.

“We weren’t born with shoes on so … must have been intended to run without shoes,” says Jason Schwartz.

If you want to try it, Kath has this advice:

“The next time you go to the beach, the first five minutes try a run without the shoes, the next time you go try 10 minutes.”

That means pace yourself before jumping in with both feet.