While Running in barefoot the ground earth acts as a good shock absobant, which is created by Nature itself. Shoe is a technical device,and no such technical device can provide equal density support to the bare foot.
Although the "ground earth" acts as a good shock absorbant, most individuals and athletes run on other surfaces which are not as shock absorbant as "good ol' earth". This places undo stress to the ligaments, bones and muscles leading to injuries.
If an athlete has a foot with poor biomechanics, then perhaps 'no'. An excessively pronated foot will be prone to fatigue and an oversupinated foot will be prone to excessive shock. The appropriate footwear can compensate for these deformities, improve function, and prevent injuries.
If one has a normal foot type, then perhaps 'yes'. No shoe can improve upon the millions of years of evolution that created the wondrous organ of locomotion that is the foot! I can even imagine situations where a foot type that may be considered poor biomechanically in general, may actually provide an advantage for a particular athletic activity.
Ok, so my short answer to the question is 'depends'.
Eric Egelman, DPM
It is bad for the skin because of friction and pressure.
There is a big difference between running on sandy soil, rocky soil, dry ground, wet ground. etc. As we all know, different amounts of moisture can change the shock absorption properties of the ground. Running on vegetation such as grass is a lot different than running in the Great Salt Flats. To make a blanket statement about the earth being a good shock absorbant is rediculous! That is about as crazy as these new devices in department stores and shoe stores that analyze the foot for a "custom fit orthotic device"....these companies obviously don't know the difference between an orthotic device and an arch support anyway. Seems like our profession should push for some legislation to protect patients from this type of advertising!
Don't know the actual answer to this question. A book given to me to read by a patient entitled "Born to Run" by McDougal is a real eye opener. It is about super athletes and the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. Podiatrists who treat runners should make this their next read. Its interesting and thought provoking.
Yes, Only on the premise that there are no existing biomechanical problems?
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