When you’re a vet and you’ve been through the grind of deployment, it can be tough to get back into shape, even for those of us that are “rugged.”

As with anything else in life, there are pros and cons to everything. In this case, we’ll focus on the pros of barefoot running as a veteran. If you’re tired of sitting around or feeling fat, maybe it’s time to take up a new hobby. Running is something that will not only get your heart pumping but also help strengthen your muscles. Running barefoot is something that will not only strengthen your feet but also give some unique health benefits outside of that alone as well.

A Little Background on Barefoot Running

The most popular reason to start barefoot running is to strengthen your feet. While running shoes are supposed to protect your feet, most people’s feet aren’t exactly the same size, so one person’s pair of running shoes may not fit another person at all.

When you have a shoe that doesn’t fit correctly, you could be crushing your toes, putting too much pressure on your heel, or even causing your arches to collapse. This is a recipe for disaster when you’re trying to run. The other reason people run barefoot is because it’s supposed to be better for your joints and knees. Running on the road or trail can be hard on your joints, but going barefoot can help cushion the blow. Running barefoot may also help improve your posture.

When you run barefoot, you are forced to run with a more natural stride. This means that you use your foot and ankle muscles more, which can help strengthen them. Additionally, when you run barefoot, you are able to feel the ground beneath your feet which can help improve your balance and coordination.

Barefoot Running
(Source: Shashi.rangarathna/Wikimedia)

Some people also believe that barefoot running can help reduce the risk of injuries. This is because when you run barefoot, you are able to land on your mid or forefoot instead of your heel. This helps absorb the impact of each stride and can help prevent injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendinitis.

Strengthening Exercises for Your Muscles

When you’re running, every step you take is a mini workout. Your calves, thighs, and arms will feel the burn after just a short 5-mile run. Running barefoot can help strengthen your muscles further by adding in some exercises.

When you’re running, you may notice that the bottom of your feet begin to hurt. This is because your feet are not used to the pressure of the ground, so they are getting stronger. When this starts to happen, you can add some strengthening exercises to your running routine.

When you’re running, lift up your toes and push down on the ground with your heels. This will help strengthen the muscles in your feet and lower legs, which can help prevent injury later on down the road.

Cardio Exercise and Fitness

Beyond just strengthening your muscles, running can help improve your cardio fitness as well. When you start to run more frequently, your heart rate will naturally increase. This is cardio and it’s essential for overall health. Running at a steady pace for about 30 minutes will give you the most benefits. When you’re running barefoot, you may be able to push yourself a little harder than you otherwise would in a pair of running shoes. This is because with running shoes, your steps may be cushioned a bit, which can make you a bit lazy. Going barefoot will help you really feel the ground, which can help push you to go harder. This is especially true when you start adding in hills, which is great for your cardio fitness.

Improve Your Posture and Core Strength

Whether you like to admit it or not, most vets spend a lot of time sitting at their desk. Whether you’re typing, writing, or conducting research on the computer, vets are known to spend a lot of time on their butts.

This can lead to all sorts of issues like back pain and posture problems. When you’re sitting for long periods of time, you’re not working your core muscles. This can lead to a saggy stomach area, which is never attractive. Running barefoot can help strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture. This is because when running, you will have to engage your entire core to remain upright. This can help prevent back pain and improve your posture, making you look and feel better.

Boost Your Immune System and Digestive Tract

When you’re running, you’re getting a great cardio workout, but you’re also helping your body in other ways as well. Running can help boost your immune system and even help with your digestion.

By running a few times a week, you can help strengthen your immune system, which can help prevent you from getting sick. Running may also help improve your digestion by helping you breathe deeply, which can actually help break down energy. When you run, you’re typically in a “push” position, which can help break up energy.

Take Caution

There is a great deal of debate surrounding the topic of barefoot running. Some people swear by its benefits, while others claim that it can actually be harmful to your body. So, what is the truth?

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To start with, let’s take a look at what barefoot running is. As the name suggests, this is a type of running where you are barefoot, or wearing minimalistic shoes that allow your toes and feet to move freely.

There are a number of reasons why people might choose to run barefoot. For starters, proponents of barefoot running claim that it strengthens your feet and ankles and can help improve your balance and coordination. Additionally, because you are engaging more muscles when you run barefoot, it can also help you burn more calories and tone your body.

Finally, some people believe that running barefoot helps reduce the risk of injuries, as you are less likely to land on your heel when you run this way. This is because when you land on your heel, it puts a lot of stress on your joints, leading to pain and injuries over time.

So far, there is some scientific evidence to support the benefits of barefoot running. One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that runners who switched to barefoot running experienced less pain in their feet and ankles and improved their balance and coordination.

Another study published in Footware Science showed that when runners landed on their forefeet rather than their heels, they experienced less impact force on their knees and hips. This could potentially lead to reduced rates of injury in these areas.

However, while there is some evidence to suggest that barefoot running can be beneficial for certain people, it’s important to note that not everyone may experience these benefits. In fact, for some people, running barefoot could actually lead to injuries.

This is because when you run without shoes, you are exposed to a number of hazards such as sharp objects on the ground or hot pavement. Additionally, if you are not used to running without shoes, your feet may not be strong enough to handle the impact force from landing on them. As a result, you could experience pain or injuries in your feet or ankles.

Man is an animal that is a natural runner.  In the caveman days, men hunted in packs and ran down animals on the African savannahs like Gazelles and other four-footed prey.  That sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it?  How could a man run down a swift-footed gazelle?  The answer is endurance.  Most animals lack the ability to sweat off heat they build up during exertion, they cool off by panting, expelling heat in their exhaled breaths, and exchanging it for cooler air from the outside.  Men could chase a gazelle and keep him running until it overheated and collapsed from heat exhaustion, when it could then be bashed in the head with a rock or stabbed with a wooden spear.  If a man saw a lion far enough away, he could actually outrun it. The lion was capable of a burst of energy but could not sustain it over any distance, and a human hunter could run for miles.

So overall, while there may be some benefits to barefoot running, it’s important to remember that this type of running may only be suitable for some. If you are thinking about giving it a try, make sure to take things slowly and build up your strength and endurance gradually so that you don’t risk injuring yourself.

Conclusion

Running barefoot is a great way to strengthen your feet and improve your posture. It can also help improve your cardio fitness, boost your immune system, and even help your digestion. All that from just running a few times a week! If you’re a vet or know a vet that is trying to get back into shape or just get into shape for the first time, running is a great way to do so. Barefoot running is even better as it helps strengthen your feet, posture, and even your immune system and digestion.

For more, check out Dr. Mark Cucuzella’s feature on barefoot running below. Want to get started but don’t really want to go full-on barefoot? Try minimalist barefoot shoes today!