This is just a pointer to an article on the Massage Therapy Schools blog about barefoot running. Of course, foot massage is very relaxing, and there are even members of the Society for Barefoot Living who do foot massage There is a lot of good information in the article.
The article, in short bullet points, addresses such things as “Running shoes may cause more injuries,” “We run better barefoot,” “You’re not going to catch a disease and die,” and “Don’t let other people’s ignorance set you back.”
I do think they are overly cautious on one of their bullet points, “Start on soft surfaces”:
Your feet and eye-foot coordination aren’t going to be prepared to navigate the pavement, glass shards or pebbles right away, so practice on sand or grass first.
All practicing on sand or grass will do is teach you how to run on sand and grass. The way to learn to run barefoot is to run barefoot, everywhere. Use the sensation provided by your soles to give you valuable feedback. If running on asphalt or concrete hurts, you are doing it wrong, and you need to consider your form. Sand and grass just don’t give you that sort of feedback, so you may be training yourself to run incorrectly for being barefoot. Also, don’t run “barefoot” using those “minimal” shoes like the Vibram Five Fingers. Those don’t let your soles tell you when you’ve had too much—yeah, they let you keep going, but if your soles have had too much (and you don’t know it), then all the muscles and tendons in your feet have also had too much, but you have not been warned by your soles. That can lead to injury.
I’m not much of a runner (it just bores me—sorry). I have found that hiking really builds up the feet. The stimulation of various pebbles and sticks and such built up both my muscles and padding, so that whenever I do try something a bit more adventuresome, like running or rappelling or playing tennis, my feet have already been in such great shape, that I can do the extra activity with ease.