One of the more striking features of the demographic that makes up this year’s Naked Foot 5k run in Maryland’s Meadowbrook Park is the presence of runners who have since given up running because of injuries.

However, because of the emergence (and attention) being brought on by barefoot and minimalist runners – and the growing evidence that it does in fact help you become a stronger runner – more runners are showing up at these barefoot running events wearing nothing on their feet at all, or wearing a pair of minimalist running shoes.

According to racing officials, over 450 runners joined in the Naked Foot 5k to experience the fun and joy of running barefoot, or gaining the same experience with barefoot running shoes.

And as amazing as it is, these runners showed up because most of them have been unable to battle through injuries they incurred 10 or 20 years ago.

Here are some comments made by those who were participating in the race:

“I have an old knee injury that gets aggravated,” says Bud Uyeda.

“I ran a marathon 20 years ago, and after that my arches collapsed,” says Dave Hafera.

These are definitely not comments that you’d hear from your typical runners in a 5K race.  But these runners are among the many that have come out to “re-experience” the joys of running by running barefoot or with minimalist running shoes.

According to Uyeda, “I would not be running if I were not running barefoot.”

As you can see, the barefoot running movement is picking up momentum throughout the United States, and so are the sales of minimalist running shoes.

Minimalist shoes now account for 12 percent of running shoe sales (though it’s just 4 percent without Nike’s Free line), according to one report, and the practice is mainstream enough that Naked Foot runs are being held in 10 cities this summer.

So have you tried out a pair of minimalist running shoes or barefoot running yet?  If so, how do you feel it compares to traditional running shoes?


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