News / USA

Growing Number of Runners Opt to Run in Bare Feet

Barefoot runners says they experience less knee and joint pain when they run without shoes
Barefoot runners says they experience less knee and joint pain when they run without shoes
Elizabeth Lee
LOS ANGELES - A growing number of people are choosing to run without shoes.  Many barefoot runners say running with no shoes actually helps reduce injuries and joint pain. In Los Angeles, the mild weather allows people to run barefoot throughout the year.

Michele Musacchio runs without shoes whenever she can. She started running in her bare feet nine months ago because she was looking for a way to exercise without joint pain.

"My hips had been hurting, my knees had been hurting, not a problem with the running," she said. President of the Los Angeles Barefoot Runners Society, Ken Bob Saxton believes the cause of joint pain is often shoes.

"They allow us to run very sloppily, they allow us to slam our feet into the ground with higher impact with a straight leg with our knee locked up so that all that impact go straight into the knee and into the hips," he said.

Saxton has run 79 marathons in his bare feet.  He says when he sees sharp objects such as glass on the ground he runs around it or on top of it without getting cut.

"Most of the glass just lays there and as long as you come straight down like this and pick your foot up nothing happens," he said.

Harvard University Professor Daniel Lieberman has studied how shoes have changed the way people run. In a Skype interview with VOA, he said 30 to 70 percent of runners suffer injuries.

"Why have we failed to lessen this epidemic of injury? I would argue is that we put too much faith technology in shoes, in orthotics, in things you can buy, and what really matters is how you run," said Lieberman.

Lieberman studied runners, from members of the Harvard track team, to runners in Africa who have never worn shoes. He said barefoot runners have better form.

"They tend to have good posture. They tend to take shorter strides. They tend to not land hard on their heels," he explained.

Lieberman says barefoot runners tend to land on the balls of their feet.  He says most people who run in shoes land on their heel, which could cause damage to the body.

Physical therapist Robert Forster specializes in proper running technique and has worked with Olympic Gold Medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith Joyner. He said running without shoes may help strengthen the foot, but can also lead to foot injuries. 

"I just see it as a movement that’s not necessary," he said. "We just hate to see the injuries that could be avoided because there’s not enough padding in the bottom of the shoe."

Forster has treated injuries caused by running without shoes.

"Bruises at the ball of the foot, especially in the big toe can actually fracture some small bones in those tendons and that can be a real serious problem," he said.

Lieberman says many people get injured running without shoes because they do too much too soon.

"It is true that if somebody who has been wearing shoes their whole life and then suddenly takes off their shoes and go for a 10-mile run, they will injure themselves, for sure. I guarantee it," he said.

He says new barefoot runners have to take it slow and give the body time to adapt.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs