Barefoot running – Is booming at the moment all around the world, here we will discuss a little about it and how to transition to and run bare foot safely to avoid common running injuries such as shin splints, foot and knee pain. It is so important to do it properly and invest in your body – and as a bonus your running will get easier!
Having recently read the book “born to run”, it really has altered my way of thinking about running and also backed up a lot of what I was thinking already. The great thing about this book is that is has got people talking and discussing proper running bio-mechanics and the modern running shoe.
I have heard a lot recently that barefoot running and minimalist shoes are a fad. But ask yourself this: Are running shoes the real fad and barefoot running the tried and true way to run?
Humans have been running and hunting barefoot for over 2 million years, but only using running shoes for the past century. This is hugely thought provoking and it is great to see people’s perceptions changing. Have a watch of the below video in its entirety and let me know your opinion as it is a great summary of the argument for barefoot running.
Now I am not saying minimalist or barefoot running is the answer to your problems and pains when exercising but it is certainly something that can be if you go about it the right way. This is purely because wearing these supportive running shoes takes a large amount of the sensory receptors in your foot out of the picture and so your body is less aware if you are landing badly and doing yourself damage – that is the main flaw in modern running shoes. Try taking off your shoes and running barefoot for a short distance (on grass to start) and notice how your running style changes – no longer putting so much impact through your heel!
Now if you are looking to try barefoot running /minimalist running OR are having trouble making the transition, continue reading as going about it the wrong way can certainly lead to injuries and pain.
1. You cannot jump straight from your supportive runners to a pair of Vibrams or the like. You need to gradually transition your shoes so that your body can adapt and build the necessary muscle endurance.
2. Gradually build up your miles.
3. Start training your muscles to do the work so that you don’t need padded arches! Perform these two exercises regularly throughout the day and once you can do them easily – then you can start building up your minimalist running.
Exercise # 1. Heel raises: perform 36 heel raises on each foot (one at a time). Tips: do one raise each second and have one finger placed on a wall for minimal support. You need to be able to comfortably and easily do this amount – so build up and persevere.
Technique: lie on your side with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your shoulders, hips and ankles are in alignment. now place your upper elbow on the ground in front and have your upper knee stick 2 inches out over your lower knee so that your hips do not roll backwards. nearly there!
Now keeping your ankles together, lift your upper knee 8 inches (20 cm) and then lower down again, making sure you control it. Start with doing 10 reps on each side and build up to 36 (you will really feel the burn in your gluteus medius).
These two exercises can be done little and often throughout the day.
4. Take a look at my recent post on ironing out your running technique as these tips are a must for all runners.
Give it a go and persevere!