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Transitioning To Barefoot Running
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If you're interested in running barefoot, it's important that you don't rush into anything too extreme without preparation. You may have seen some pictures on the internet of feet covered in nasty blisters after a barefoot run. "Barefoot running is BS!", they say. "Look what happened when I tried it!" Don't be that guy. If we're going to do this, let's make sure we're doing it right. In this article, I'll give you a few tips for transitioning to barefoot running as painlessly as possible.

The first thing you should do is make sure you spend plenty of time barefoot even when you're not running. As your feet re-adapt to being barefoot, your feet will get stronger and will actually return to their natural shape. The muscles that support your arches will strengthen. Your arches may get higher. Your forefoot will get wider and your toes will spread out more. Your calves will become longer and more flexible. Spending time walking or even just standing barefoot will help this process along.

When you're transitioning to barefoot running, you also want to start off in small increments and gradually increase the amount of time you run. If you've been wearing shoes all your life, the soles of your feet are soft and delicate. If you try to run 10 miles on your first day, you're going to wreck them. Also, your form will be different and you'll be using muscles in a way you're not used to. Your calves may get pretty sore as you're transitioning to barefoot running. Start off by running about 5 minutes barefoot every other day. Every week or so, increase that time by another 5 minutes.

A lot of runners are in the habit of pushing through pain. You don't want to do that here. That feedback is designed to tell you when you're doing something wrong. Listen to it. You may need to correct your form in some way, or you may just need to stop for the day and let your feet recover. For example, if you're landing hard on your heel, this is going to hurt because it isn't the way we were meant to run. The high impact of running that way is harmful to your joints. When you're transitioning to barefoot running, focus on maintaining a light, gentle forefoot landing.

Another thing you can do to ease your transition is get a pair of minimalist "barefoot" shoes. These are shoes designed to provide some protection for your soles without changing the way your foot naturally functions. If your soles are starting to hurt, you can throw these on and keep running without worrying about developing blisters. They're also a good idea if you're worried about debris such as glass or metal, or if you want to do some trail running.

Barefoot running is not something you should just dive into and expect to be able to run as far as you can in shoes. Make sure you take the time to develop strong feet without overwhelming them. If you take it easy and listen to your body, transitioning to barefoot running should be a pleasant experience, not a painful one.

Street Talk

Caleb R.  

If you have the option, running barefoot on sand is a good choice. You expend more energy, get the foot use to being barefoot, and work those underused muscles, and build ankle strength.

  about 9 years ago
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