To Barefoot or not to Barefoot?
So you think you can run barefoot because you read somewhere its meant to be better for you, right? Wrong!
Think about it, ever since you stopped shuffling around on your behind and took a leap of faith and started to walk on your own two feet someone has shoved shoes onto your feet to protect your pretty little tootsies. Fast forward 30 years plus and you decide to replace your habitual 1inch wedged healed shoe with the all singing, all dancing top of the range flat barefoot trainer. You look like you work out, run the distance, but your body is singing a different tune. One that goes like this, ow, ow, ow, your calf’s are screaming, your knees are paining, your hips are roaring and your low back is pulsating!
Stop, pause and gather your thoughts. Remember we are creatures of habit and just because the shoe fits doesn’t mean you can run like Haile Gebrselassie. If you were a heal striker until now, chances are you are still a heal striker and with a lot less cushion your body isn’t going to like it. This results in ground reaction forces, combined with mass and momentum travelling through the body from the feet up and creating pain in areas where we may never have experienced it before.
So what’s the answer, well like anything worth doing we have to build slowly. Start by wearing your barefoots around the house to start off. Make tea in them, cook dinner in them, strut your stuff to your tune of choice in them before bounding the street in them. When you feel like your ready for a road test, try it for 10 minutes on the beat. Feel the difference, slowly adjust your stride from heal strike to forefoot running. You should start to do this without thinking as heal striking will not be a pleasure while forefoot will be like heaven in comparison. Each week add 5 minutes onto you run, if you feel pain maintain or reduce your distance and build slowly again.
And remember even the most recent evidence is not for or against barefoot running so don’t be fooled by the glossy magazines, sales advisor’s or recent celeb endorsement. If you’re experiencing regular injuries give it a go with short strides, don’t lean forward and land lightly to maximise the benefits of the transition.