B is for Barefoot Running

November 11, 2012

Barefoot running is controversial topic, mainly because of the the claims that get made for it that are not supported by the evidence.

The decision to try barefoot running is a personal one that should be based on your individual circumstances and preferences. It is important to consider:

  1. Transition period: If you are used to running in cushioned shoes, transitioning to barefoot running should be done gradually. Running barefoot or using minimalist shoes requires your feet and lower leg muscles to adapt to a different style of running. Start with short distances and gradually increase your mileage over time to allow your body to adjust.
  2. Foot strength and flexibility: Barefoot running can help strengthen the muscles in your feet and promote better foot and ankle stability. However, if you have weak or inflexible feet, it may take time to develop the necessary strength and flexibility for barefoot running. Regular foot exercises and mobility work can help prepare your feet for this type of running.
  3. Running surface: Consider the surface you plan to run on. Soft, natural surfaces like grass or trails can provide more cushioning and a more forgiving surface for barefoot running compared to hard pavement or concrete. Running on rough or uneven surfaces without proper protection can increase the risk of injuries.
  4. Individual biomechanics: Each person’s running biomechanics are unique. Some individuals may naturally have a gait that is well-suited for barefoot running, while others may require more support or cushioning to maintain proper form and prevent injuries. Analyzing your running form and seeking guidance from a professional, such as a running coach or podiatrist, can provide valuable insights.
  5. Potential risks: Barefoot running can carry certain risks, especially if not approached cautiously. Without the protection of cushioned shoes, you may be more susceptible to injuries such as cuts, scrapes, blisters, or stepping on sharp objects. Additionally, overloading your feet or lower legs with sudden increases in mileage or intensity can lead to issues like stress fractures or Achilles tendonitis.
  6. Individual preference: Some runners find barefoot running to be enjoyable and beneficial, as it can enhance sensory feedback and improve running form. However, others may prefer the comfort and protection of traditional running shoes. Ultimately, it’s important to listen to your body and choose the running style that feels most comfortable and suits your goals.

If you decide to try barefoot running, it’s advisable to start slowly, focus on proper form and technique, and pay attention to any discomfort or pain. Gradually increase your mileage and intensity while allowing your body time to adapt. If you experience persistent or worsening pain or discomfort, it’s recommended to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or a running specialist.


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