Today even newborn babies go home from the hospital with at least something on their feet. Seems nearly the moment we're born our feet are covered and destined to stay that way the rest of our days. Some experts, however, feel this isn't always a good idea, especially when it comes to running.
The theory behind barefoot running is it's most natural and therefore more conducive to healthy ligaments, joints, and tendons. By altering our natural gait, padded tennis shoes essentially cause us to run unnaturally by allowing heels to strike the ground first. Repeated heel strikes over time can begin to take a toll on a runner's knees, hips, and spine causing aches and pains an alternate form of running may likely avoid. Running barefoot, on the other hand, prompts us to land on the ball of the foot in order to avoid landing hard on the heels.
Natural though it may be, I can attest to the fact that having worn tennis shoes nearly all my life, this method of running feels very odd and takes a great degree of concentration to pull off at this early stage. Should I ever forget to land on the balls of my feet and by chance land on a heel, my Bikilas remind me toot sweet. With no cushion in the shoe whatsoever, a heel strike in these five-fingered beauties is most unpleasant and not easily forgotten.
I was warned adapting to these shoes would be slow so I'm in no hurry. I wear them each day just to get used to the feel and have worked up to running outside in them for a whopping six minutes. Interestingly enough the first thing I notice about these shoes, beyond the void of cushion, is lack of support. With absolutely no arch support, each foot left is on its own to strengthen and adapt in a new way. Eventually the intricate muscles of the feet grow and develop to meet the demand so the feeling of running barefoot becomes more comfortable and natural. Until then I must limit my workouts and keep patience close at hand...or should I say foot.
Oh. I almost forgot. My last six minute run worked my upper, mid, back calves so much I couldn't run for two days. They were sore as could be. Clearly these calf muscles are not the predominant muscles used propel me in my tennis shoes. Everything is so different now.