Olympic athletes should run barefoot to reach their peak condition, researchers at Northumbria University claim.
Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Dr. Michael Wilkinson, said running without shoes helped athletes alter their gait to that characteristic of habitual barefoot runners, pick up less injuries and use less oxygen.
He said: “Ever since I started running barefoot six years ago, I have been injury free.
“In our research we also found people running barefoot for the first time actually saved energy as it made them a more economical runner.”
The results suggest that by ditching your trainers you can adopt a new running style, which reduces the impact on your feet.
Stuart Miller, Head Of Biomechanics at the London Sport Institute, contacted Sky Tyne and Wear to warn anyone considering barefoot running to take it gradually.
"As such, a proper adaptation period is required. This should include mixing in short barefoot runs separated by at least a few days with your normal shod runs.
"Additional exercises to improve the strength of the calf muscles such as simple calf raises, standing on the edge of a step and lifting yourself up onto your toes, are also important."
Further research will take place with a group of volunteers at an open session called ‘Barefoot Running: Science and Practice’.
It will be held at Sports Central at Northumbria University on Wednesday 18 July, 6pm-8pm.
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