Barefoot Running: 7 Common Myths

November 19, 2021
Inside this article:

The benefits of barefoot running are well documented, but there are still some common misconceptions about the practice.

We've debunked 7 myths you might have heard about barefoot running to provide insight into what it really means to run without shoes.

We Need Shoes For Support

Our ancestors survived by running, hiking, hunting, farming, and everything else it takes to survive for millions of years without shoes. Our feet are not naturally weak.

After spending a lifetime in a shoe our muscles, ligaments, tendons and even bones are weak. That's why it's important to transition into barefoot running gradually for this reason. Go too fast and we're likely to go too far and harm ourselves, just like anything else.

Those who go barefoot and do so on a daily basis have better, stronger feet than those who wear modern shoes.

Going Barefoot Will Give You A Cold

A cold is caused when a person comes into contact with the virus that causes it, either through breathing in or touching an infected surface with their hand and then their nose, eyes, or mouth.

Changing temperatures alone do not give you a cold no matter what your mum said.

Being Barefoot Is Unhygienic

Germs do not jump from one object or person to another on their own. Feet are almost always kept on the floor or ground, and they are no more likely to spread illnesses than shoes. The greatest danger for spreading germs is hands - as they touch contaminated surfaces before making contact.

Feet that are left open to the air, on the other hand, are typically far healthier than when kept confined in shoes all day. A barefoot seldom stinks!

You'll Get Athletes Foot

When fungus grows on the feet after contact with a polluted surface, it causes athletes foot. However, to grow, the fungus requires a warm, damp environment. A shoe provides just the right climate for it.

People who go barefoot on a regular basis are less likely to get athlete's foot.

Your Feet Will Smell

Feet, on their own, do not produce a smell. Feet do have a number of sweat glands, and if they are kept in sealed, warm environments, like shoes, bacteria that break down sweat have the opportunity to develop and cause trouble-producing foot odour (bromodosis).

As I said, a barefoot seldom stinks!

Stepping On Glass (and other things)

The perceived safety hazards are frequently exaggerated. Footwear may be beneficial in extremely cold weather or on genuinely dangerous surfaces, but it's more as a tool for a specific purpose rather than to prevent actual harm.

There's really not as much as you think and simply scanning the path ahead with your eyes and not stepping on it is enough.

Running Barefoot Is Slower

Every long-term gain comes with a short-term sacrifice in performance whilst learning. The initial speed loss of going barefoot, however small it may be, does not outweigh the long-term benefits such as improved running mechanics and form which means faster running in the end!

It might also feel slower due to the increased efficiency of running technique but your time is just as fast. Maybe you're measuring effort more than time performance.

Many people who make this type of comment have never tried barefoot long enough to know.

Conclusion

People who go barefoot more often are more likely to have healthier feet than those in shoes. Many people might just think that running without shoes is dangerous or unhygienic but they're simply misconceptions that lack any kind of evidence-based.