If the Olympics are inspiring you to get out and run a little more, you may want to leave your shoes in the closet. Barefoot running is gaining popularity because of the benefits it may provide.
Shoe-wearing runners have a tendency to land on their heals, which transfers much more force to the joints, but when you run barefoot, research shows the tendency is to develop a mid-foot strike, which takes pressure off the joints and may decrease your injury risk.
Experts say you don't have to ditch your shoes altogether, because just a little bit of barefoot training may provide some benefit.
"Some people need the constraint of a certain kind of shoe, but may still benefit from a little bit of barefoot training for 10 or 15 minutes to get a sense of how they should be running, but then go back and get the support of the shoe with the same stride they would use if they were truly running barefoot," said Dr. Susan Joy of Cleveland Clinic Sports Health.
Dr. Joy says some runners even report previous pain subsiding after they began a barefoot running regimen.
She adds that if you're going to try it, be sure you're running on a safe surface.