Early morning, thousands of runners – 3,500 to be exact – will get up before dawn, brave the cold and hit the streets for the first-ever Naperville Marathon.
The race website says nearly 75 percent of runners are from Naperville and nearby communities, a list that likely includes Lemont.
Meanwhile, the event serves as a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon.
While plenty of athletes will sport shoes of all sorts along the 26.2-mile route, some runners might not wear shoes at all.
A trend has emerged among some joggers: Barefoot running. It's also called minimalism or natural running and involves wearing thin-soled shoes – or no shoes at all. It's considered by some as a way to correct a runner’s form and prompt a forefoot strike -- which, believe it or not -- some say can lead to fewer injuries than those who run with a heel-strike.
Barefoot running has even prompted footwear companies to offer special shoes – perhaps the most well-known is Vibram with its FiveFingers shoe – to those who want to try barefoot running while protecting their feet.
According to Runners World magazine, research hasn't concluded whether barefoot running has benefits.
Perhaps not surprisingly, barefoot running is controversial.
The New York Times reported that five different studies at this summer's American College of Sports Medicine meeting found no major benefits to switching to barefoot-style shoes.
Other researchers asked 566 runners if they ever tried – and liked – barefoot-style shoes. About a third of the runners said they'd tried them. Of of those, 32 percent said they got injuries they blamed on the footwear.
Also, the Times reported that Brigham Young University researchers didn't find evidence that barefoot-style running toughens foot muscles, which advocates say could prevent injury.
As podiatrists at DM Foot and Ankle, we see plenty of local athletes and runners and get asked about this topic frequently. When it comes to barefoot running or minimalist shoes, we believe high-impact sports such as running should NOT be done in shoes that lack structure, support or shock absorption. Very few people have the ideal arch or foot conditioning to run on concrete with bare feet. My colleage, Dr. Michelle Kim, and I see this as stress fracture, foot sprain or tendon injury waiting to happen!
Different feet need different arch and shoe support. Not every shoe is right for every foot – so if you are unsure, call us for an evaluation. We are happy to help.