Should you be running barefoot

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<ul><li><p>Should You Be Running Barefoot?</p><p>Just a few years ago, the sight of someone jogging barefoot was considered bizarre. Butthe minimalist running movement has steadily gained momentum, with several compa-nies offering specialized shoes that strip away the countless layers of padding that theyclaim corrupt a runners natural stride. Today, its not uncommon to see casual joggersand marathoners alike trading in their high-tech running sneakers in favor of thin, slip-per-like shoes designed to make runners move and step the way nature intended.</p><p>But is there truth to these barefooted claims? Licensed physical therapist, personal train-er and minimalist training enthusiast Martin Rooney tells Mens Fitness what you needto know about ditching the padding before you go throwing out all your sneakers.</p><p>Cushioning may be ironically bad for your feetImpact and natural mobility of the foot is essential to foot health, Rooney says. He be-lieves that sneakers, with their thick, impact-absorbing soles, have turned us all intotenderfoots, as well as altered the bodys natural inclination to land on the ball of thefoot instead of the heel. I do all of my training barefooted," he adds, "and I have neverhad to go to the drugstore to utilize the aisle that is devoted to all the problems youhave with your feet.</p><p>This isnt a new conceptPeople have been training barefoot since the dawn of man! Rooney exclaims. But in itsmodern incarnation, the barefoot or minimalist movement has been around for over 15years with some early research in favor of it dating back to the early/mid-80s.</p><p>You have to transition slowlyLike kicking most bad habits, you have to wean your feet off their cushion dependency.If youve never bench pressed, you dont jump in the first day and see how much youcan do, Rooney explains. You would have to work up over time. But unlike somewho claim that it could take years to make the change, Rooney suggests three or fourweeks of gradually getting into training to get your body used to a new stimulus with-out hurting yourself.</p><p>There are pitfallsWithout a doubt, youll see an increase in speed, Rooney claims. But marathonersneed to proceed with caution. I would have their form looked at to make sure theydont cause more problems for themselves. The real issue? People who run with mini-</p></li><li><p>malist shoes still run as if they have padding If they continue to have heel landingand bad form and really take a tremendous amount of impact that the old shoes used toabsorb, that could be [an injury risk].</p><p>Minimalist shoes arent just for runnersRooney insists on training all of his athlete and MMA fighter clientswhich includeswarm-ups, lifting and runningbarefoot or in minimalist shoes. The more you can getyour shoe off during the day, the better, he says. Get your feet moving again.</p><p>Going barefoot isnt necessaryThe ultimate in minimalist technology would be going barefoot, Rooney admits, butthats not always feasible. Not only is hygiene an issue, [theres] safety, and then tem-perature becomes an issuewhich is where I think these minimalist shoes come in.</p><p>Not all minimalist running shoes are created equalRooney emphasizes that its not just about the shoe on the footits about the foot inthe shoe, but you still have to choose that shoe wisely. Now the world is ready for theconcept and every shoe company is jumping on board and creating a smaller shoe or ashoe that looks like a foot and now theyre part of the minimalist movement. Rooneysuggests the oldest scientific method in the book: trial and error. Try them all on andsee which one really feels optimally the best instead of which one looks the best or is thecoolest or what everybody says you should get.</p></li></ul>