Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians are a good example. They run marathons wearing thin rubber sandals or no shoes at all. During the 1960 Olympic games, Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, thought none of the available running shoes fit him well and decided to run barefoot as he had trained in his home country. He won in record time.
Interest in running without shoes has increased more recently with Christopher McDougall’s best seller, Born to Run. But many podiatrists say there is little data on going barefoot, so runners should be careful when trying it.
One runner, quoted in Time, found that his stride changed back to a natural form when he was wearing Vibram Five Fingers ($75) that protected the soles of his feet from debris while he was running.
He said it put more stress on his calves, which led to some temporary soreness. Eventually, however, his knees and back felt better.