Children have plenty of energy and often enjoy running from one place to the next, either in short sprints or longer distances. The best way for a child to have proper foot development and running technique is with free feet.
Research has shown that running barefoot is better than going with the latest shoe. It is demonstrate that the foot is much more flexible when bare and lands on the ground better than when wearing shoes.
Carefully look at the picture on the left. You can see this boy is landing on his forefoot instead of the heel. Shoes don’t allow this form of natural running and cause life-long problems with feet, knees, hips, and back from improper positioning. With a person’s weight gradually going on to the foot, it is much less stress on the knees and hips and greatly reduces, or eliminates, injury.
Learning barefoot running at an early age leads to becoming more accustomed to it and starts a healthy lifestyle. Just starting to run barefoot will take time and needs to be done gradually. New muscles are being used that may be weakened from shoes and need to be built up slowly. The runner must also become familiar with different surfaces. Grass or cement will have varying impact when running and varying temperatures, especially in summer months. Watch as this young man goes to the front of the pack and wins the race against shod competitors.
It may require some education or waivers to be signed for children to compete while running barefoot. If no solution is found, then minimal footwear may be required for some venues.