New trend has runners tossing the tennis shoes

New trend has runners tossing the tennis shoes

By Courtny Gerrish, Stephanie Graham. CREATED Aug 1, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug 1, 2012

When Preston Curtis gets ready to run, there's one thing he doesn't do -- lace up his shoes!

"When I run barefoot, my feet feel really good," Preston exclaims.

Preston is one of a growing group of runners pounding the pavement in their barefeet.

Jeff Dengate works for 'Runner's World'. He says, "It's a natural way of running."

Some runners go completely barefoot, others, wear so-called 'minimalist' shoes. Dengate explains, "Nothing more than a layer for abrasion resistance and something to hold it onto your foot."

Orthopedic surgeons like Dr. A. Holly Johnson say ditching the extra cushioning causes most runners to switch up their step. "Typically, the barefoot runner lands with the front of the foot or the middle of the foot hitting the ground first."

Many runners believe barefoot running actually helps prevent injury, even though they're exposed to problems other runners don't face.

"I've only had three tiny shards of glass get in my foot, and they've really caused no problem," Preston says.

Dr. Johnson treats one to five barefoot runners a week. Often, they have stress fractures.

"Or a tendon problem that occur typically when the patient is transitioning from shoe wear to no shoe wear," Dr. Johnson explains.

So if you'd like to kick off your shoes, don't hit the ground running. Ease into the style slowly. Preston started with a walk around the neighborhood, and hasn't looked back! "You feel like you're completely whole with your body and everything's moving perfectly!"

Today, you can even find barefoot running clinics and specialists. It's important to do your homework though, because there are no certification requirements.