The barefoot running craze has died down in most parts of the world, but some runners are doing it in several countries like Singapore. The country has one of the largest and most active groups of barefoot runners in the world. However, before you ditch your shoes and start running on just the skin of your feet — there are a few things to consider.
Reasons to Go Barefoot
1. Reduced Risk of Injuries
Once you start running barefoot, you’ll never experience an ankle sprain again. Barefoot running improves the muscles and joints of your lower body — improving your foot strength, the muscles in your calves, and the ligaments in your knees. The cushioning of running shoes encourage heel-striking or landing on the heels of your feet as you run. Heel-striking can produce excessive amounts of force that puts undue stress on your knees and feet. The continuous friction while wearing shoes also increases your risk of developing painful corn on the heels of your feet. While corn removal is a simple procedure, it can still sideline you for a few days and keep you out of a big race.
2. Faster and Longer Runs
Going barefoot forces your body into shorter gaits with higher turnover. This method of running is far more efficient than running long strides and landing on your heels. Barefoot running conserves your energy, puts less stress on your body, and doesn’t tire your lungs with heavy breathing. Once your body adjusts to the shorter gaits, you’ll be running faster and for longer periods. Of course, you shouldn’t go all-in just because you’re running barefoot. You’ll still have to add running volume or distance gradually.
3. No Expensive Shoes
Your bare feet are all you need to run. While proponents of minimalist shoes extol the virtue of their products, experts believe that minimalist shoes only get in the way of proper barefoot running. Vibram famously settled a lawsuit — allocating US$3.75 million to customers who wanted refunds of their product.
Reasons Not To
1. It Can Get Awkward
Going barefoot might make you feel uncomfortable at first. Years of wearing shoes will give you feelings similar to being naked without one. Of course, people will probably notice your lack of footwear — but with so many barefoot runners in Singapore, you wouldn’t be a rare sight. The biggest problem you’ll have is entering malls, restaurants, or other establishments that frown upon being barefoot.
2. Stepping on Unwanted Stuff
Nails, tacks, or glass shards could be dangerous if you were to step on them with unprotected feet. Fortunately, Singapore isn’t a circus, and the streets and trails are mainly void of litter and debris. The worst you can experience is a sharp piece of rock that would stick to your foot — but a forefoot strike should minimize any damage.
3. Schedules Required
Running barefoot on hot gravel or freezing roads can be difficult. However, the chances of experiencing extremes of temperature in Singapore are almost nil. The only time you won’t be running is when the sun is particularly hot, or the rains are particularly heavy.
Barefoot running has its advantages, and many runners can attest to that. With clean streets and mild weather, the country is also one of the best places to run barefoot.