An Introduction to Barefoot Running

Runners have long searched for the best, most supportive running shoe on the market. With running shoes getting lighter, more supportive and full of cushion, you are probably wondering why anyone would want to run barefoot.

I wondered too. It’s because the foot is an incredible part of your body. It’s designed to endure and withstand some of the most strenuous exercise and movement. It carries your entire body weight around all day!

Just like any other running, you need to prepare to try barefoot running. Keep in mind that you’ve been using shoes to cover and stabilize your feet. It’s like wearing a cast on a broken bone. The arm is very weak when you take it off, so you can expect your feet to not be too happy about it. Let’s take a look at how to make your feet jump for joy when you take off your shoes.

Start over

Forget all of the miles you have run. Forget all of the fast times you achieved. Barefoot running isn’t a speedy sport. Running barefoot is about feeling. It’s about connecting with the ground and your surroundings.

It’s about fun.

Start slow. Trying running barefoot for 10 minutes and work up to longer times. Do not worry about pace. You may not even be able to run the full 10 minutes at first. Don’t let devastation set in, you’re still a great runner, I promise.

Begin Barefoot

It’s better to begin barefoot than t“ start with ‘barefoot like’ minimalist running shoes. They can give a false sense of ability if used in the beginning. Starting barefoot will give you a better idea of what your foot needs. It may need strengthening and stretching before you’re ready to ramp up your distance.

Run like a Ninja

When you run barefoot, its best to use a forefoot strike and avoid digging in your toes. You want to practice running light and as close to silent as possible. You’ll know you’ve mastered the ninja run when other don’t hear you coming up behind them. Running like a ninja has given me a few laughs over the years.

Choose the best beginner surface.

Think about how wobbly you are when you try to walk on a soft surface. You’ve been walking your entire life and still have trouble navigating soft terrain. It only makes sense that you don’t start barefoot running on the most difficult surface. Start with a hard terrain. Concrete or packed sand will build a good stable base. Unless you want to fall on your face, starting with hard surfaces is your best bet.

Land correctly

I’ve already told you that you need to use a forefoot strike when barefoot running. You also need to retain perfect form and strike the ground with a bent knee. Strike each foot in a single line under your center of gravity. Using your joints in conjunction with one another the way they were meant to perform will go a really long way in making your run successful.

Don’t power through pain

Top of the foot pain is common and packs a pretty significant punch. Since you’re landing on your bare foot and your new at this style of running, the potential to cause a painful injury is fairly increased. Don’t worry the view is worth it, but you won’t be running barefoot for a while if you power through the pain. Foot pain will affect every part of your day, since you use them to get around. If you feel signs of pain, stop and evaluate your foot strength before attempting another run.

Bend. Bend. Bend.

Your joints have become your springs. You will need to naturally bend your hips, knees and ankles to allow your joints to work properly. Let your feet flex. They were made to do that. Use your relaxed spring state to propel forward. Have you ever seen a slinky bounce down the stairs without bending? It’d just fly down the stairs hitting every step on the way down if it didn’t bend. Doesn’t sound pleasant does it?

Lift your entire foot

Lift up your heel and your midfoot. When you step, pick your entire foot up of the ground. Do this quickly and don’t let your feet push into the ground. Stay light on your feet, like a ninja, remember? Don’t use your trailing foot to push off, simply lift it and move it forward with your bent hip. You want to glide through your run and not impede your forward motion.

Shorten your stride

When you shorten your stride, your feet have many more opportunities to support your body. Your feet should be treated as support to keep you from falling under the force of gravity. You shouldn’t use them to push yourself forward or to catch your bodyweight mid-stride. Use them to support your efforts not produce them, barefoot running isn’t about speed. It’s feels like running in place, but you’re going somewhere.

Have fun

Barefoot running is a challenging and invigorating sport. Relax and embrace the fun of the sport. Barefoot running should be stress free, so don’t think about time or distance. One of my favorite things about barefoot running is that it works best when you let go of everything and just run.

I don’t recommend running barefoot every day or for long distances, but when used to change up your running routine or improve your form barefoot running can be a priceless tool for your bag o’ tricks. You will see improvements in form and leg strength.

Over time, you may even see improvements in the way your foot supports your body daily. When you choose to run barefoot, make sure you’re ready to make the commitment to take care of your joints while doing it.

If you don’t protect your joints while running barefoot, you could end up with an injury that puts you on the couch for weeks.

Remember to always physically prepare yourself for a run and start out slow.

You won’t run long and fast at first, but that isn’t the goal of barefoot running. Barefoot running is meant to enhance your love of running.

Barefoot running is about magnifying the connection with your feet and legs, that powerful connection that all runners feel.

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