Jogging is an aerobic exercise that has many benefits – it helps you shed weight, relieve stress, improve mobility and boost your immune system.
You may have noticed that more and more people are taking to jogging in their bare feet.
But why jog barefoot, you may ask? What happens to the plenty of running shoes whose benefits have been touted over and over again?
Running barefoot has a lot of benefits, from physical down to emotional wellbeing. These are just twelve of the science-backed reasons why you should consider jogging barefoot.
Benefits of Jogging Barefoot
1. Makes Feet Feel Lighter
Shoes carry weight, and most shoes designed for running and jogging are even heavier considering they have soles and cushioning fitted. When you run barefoot, your feet feel much lighter and you are able to run much faster as a result.
2. Leads to Proper Landing
When wearing shoes while jogging, you may land on the heel. This is not how our feet have been designed to land. They are supposed to land either on the mid-foot or forefoot according to this article on Discovery News.
The poor landing comes with a host of consequences, ranging from injured tendons to torn ligaments. Jogging barefoot corrects these by ensuring the correct landing.
3. May Help You Jog Faster
This is as a result of having faster, shorter and lighter strides when you are barefoot, according to this study. The heaviness of the strides, while you are in jogging shoes, might cause you to feel as if you are not making any progress at all.
This not only helps you jog for longer and cover a great distance but also gives you the motivation to run for longer.
4. Less Wear and Tear on the Body
Jogging barefoot reduces the chances of suffering ankle twists and hurting your knees by almost 38%.
A study was carried out among 68 runners on a treadmill, among them 37 women. When they ran in running shoes, they experienced strain on the hips, knees and twisted their ankles 38% more times than when they ran barefoot.
This alone shows you the kind of risk you subject your body to every time you run in shoes. Jogging barefoot thus reduces chances of injury, wear and tear on the body.
5. May Help You Avoid Tendinitis
If you have ever suffered tendon injuries and blamed it on your lack of fitness, it might have been your running shoes all along!
When jogging in running shoes, landing on your heels causes you to generate an impact almost three times your body weight. This is what is referred to as a heel strike.
A team of researchers from Harvard, the University of Glasgow and Moi University carried out a study among athletes in the United States and Kenya.
They found that three-quarters of the participating athletes had heel-strike when they had shoes on. All that force generated by the heel strike is absorbed by your heels and all the allied tendons and muscles in your feet.
The heel raise in shoes can also contribute to injury on the Achilles tendon. Once the Achilles tendon is affected, your jogging days are pretty much over if you keep jogging in the same shoes – which makes jogging barefoot a much viable option.
Jogging barefoot reduces the heel strike and allows the Achilles tendon to lengthen, according to this study by researchers at the University of Newcastle.
6. Helps Maintain Good Jogging Posture
Jogging barefoot gives you the correct jogging posture because you hit the ground either on the balls of your feet or the middle of your feet. This is how your feet are supposed to hit the ground, not otherwise.
You thus run from your core, and your body aligns correctly, which gives you a good jogging posture.
7. Better for Knees, Hips, and Other Joints
The one common complaint among joggers and runners is knee pain. This has led to the ill-advised conclusion that running causes knee-cap pain, while in fact, running shoes could be the culprits.
Unlike jogging barefoot, jogging in shoes causes you to take heavy strides which may lead to knee pain. It also transfers the weight of the body to the ankles, resulting in ankle and feet pain.
This study showed that jogging barefoot results in less stress for the knees, joints, and feet better than running shoes from the most popular brands like Nike and Adidas.
8. Gives You Stronger Feet and Ligaments
Wearing closed shoes in itself causes the feet to be cramped up and hinders the full development of toes and feet. Jogging in shoes further weakens the feet because the cushioning in the shoes prevents muscle development.
Jogging barefoot frees up the feet and reverses this effect, and leads to sole strength.
9. Makes You Mindful of Your Exercise
Jogging barefoot is more fun because the jogger is more aware of the sensation of their feet making contact with the ground.
They are also more aware of their surroundings and feel more connected to nature and their own being. This response is not just good for the physical wellbeing of the jogger, but also their emotional well-being.
10. May Improve Your Balance
Jogging barefoot awakens the muscles in your feet and limbs that are responsible for balance and coordination. If you are one who topples over as you run, you might want to try it.
This is supported by this study that concluded that the activation of the rarely used muscles in the feet improves balance and proprioception.
The fact that the feet are so close to the ground raises your awareness on all the movements of the limbs, making it easier for you to coordinate them.
11. Improves Short-term Memory
Do you find yourself forgetting things so easily? It is time to hit the ground running, literally – and barefoot.
Participants in a study were divided into two groups – one that ran in jogging shoes and the other that ran barefoot. Their short-term memories were tested before and after exercise. The group that ran barefoot had 16% better short term memory that the group in shoes.
12. Boosts Circulation
According to a publication in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, running barefoot can improve circulation and put you at a lesser risk of heart diseases. This is because running shoes inhibit some muscles in your feet.
Jogging in bare feet on the other hand activates them, thus increasing circulation in your feet, preventing varicose veins, and facilitating the removal of toxins.
If you want to start jogging barefoot, do not ditch your running shoes at once. Do it gradually.
Also, make sure you only jog in areas that are free of shards, sharp pebbles, and debris. You can use barefoot running shoes that have been made to prevent the feet from harmful objects while not taking away the sensation of running barefoot.
Remember that you can’t build lean muscle using cardio. Therefore, alternate between barefoot running and these simple short home workouts.