Is Barefoot Running Healthy? 3 Benefits and Risks

is barefoot running healthy

Is barefoot running healthy, and is it a good idea? Running barefoot can be beneficial for some people, but you should know the risks and benefits.

If you want to go for a run, you don't need a ton of gear. However, a lot of runners wear good running shoes that can be expensive.

Maybe you're on a budget but want to start running. Barefoot running might be the right option for you until you can get suitable shoes.

Running barefoot can be healthy as long as you don't overdo it. Like any workout, you should pace yourself, especially as a beginner.

Benefits of Barefoot Running

Barefoot running offers a few benefits that can make the practice a good choice. However, before you decide that you should always wear shoes, consider a few advantages of running without any shoes on.

So, how is barefoot running healthy? Of course, it's not for everyone, but the following benefits may convince you to run barefoot.

1. Burn More Calories

When you run barefoot, you lose the bounciness that many running shoe soles have. That can seem like a bad thing, but it actually helps you health-wise.

When you don't have any soles to rely on, you must work harder to push yourself to take the next step. For example, you'll need to use more energy for a run, which means you can burn more calories compared to running with good shoes on.

No matter the terrain, you won't have shoes to help push you forward. While burning more calories isn't a guarantee, it can happen. Then, you can lose more weight or reach other health and fitness goals.

2. Stabilize a Flat Arch

is barefoot running healthy
Barefoot running can strengthen your feet.

Since your feet have to work harder when running barefoot, that can help you tighten and strengthen the muscles in your feet. On the other hand, wearing shoes can keep you from building that strength when you run.

If you have a flat arch, this can be particularly helpful. You can tighten the arch, which might make it easier to walk when you aren't working out.

However, you should always listen to your body. If your feet start to hurt, stop running and take a break. Wear some shoes next time to see if that helps reduce the pain and allows you to run for longer.

3. Better Technique

When you go barefoot running, it forces you to develop a good technique and cadence to your step. That can help you develop better firing patterns in your legs.

Having good technique offers a lot of benefits. For one, you can reduce the risk of various overuse injuries, including plantar fasciitis. In addition, if you can avoid injuries, you won't have to take as much time off running.

That can help you continue to get better at your technique. You might also get faster, so you can enjoy the benefits of running in general.

Risks of Barefoot Running

To determine if barefoot running is healthy for you, consider the risks. While there are a few advantages, running barefoot isn't perfect.

Keep the following problems in mind before you go for a run next time.

1. Chance of Cuts and Wounds

One of the more apparent risks of running barefoot is that you can cut or scrape your feet. If you run on rough terrain, cuts are more likely to happen.

Now, you can reduce this risk by running on smoother surfaces. For example, consider running in a gym or on your treadmill. Then, you can protect your feet from cuts and wounds.

If you aren't careful, you could cut your foot, and it could lead to an infection. Of course, you won't have any of these risks when you wear running shoes.

2. Increase in Foot Stress Fractures

is barefoot running healthy

Some studies have shown that barefoot running increases the risk of stress fractures in your feet. A stress fracture refers to a small crack in your bone. If you develop stress fractures, you might be okay at first.

However, repeatedly fracturing the same bone could lead to a more severe problem. You might have better running form, but you'll still be putting a lot of stress on your feet as you run.

You might want to learn good form with shoes on first. Then, you can take the shoes off and know how to move your feet to protect them from stress fractures.

3. Not for Neuropathy Patients

Barefoot running can be particularly risky for people with diabetes and those who have developed neuropathy. Those with neuropathy have less sensory reaction when their feet hit the ground. 

Since barefoot runners are at an increased risk of hurting their feet over arduous terrain, those with neuropathy could develop an infection, resulting in having to seek medical treatment. If you have neuropathy, it's advisable to wear a good pair of shoes when running.

Want to know more? Check out are article on how to start barefoot running. And if you are still unsure whether barefoot running is for you, check out our article on what are barefoot running shoes; it could be a sensible alternative.