Want to try injury free barefoot running?
Learn from my experience and you could save yourself from injury.
Hi folks, many years ago I read “Born To Run”, by Christopher McDougal and wanted to Injury free barefoot running for myself.
This is the book that sparked my interest in minimal footwear back in 2010. If you are interested in finding out more about Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians, probably the greatest distance runners, you will love this compelling read about the 50 Mile race through Mexico’s copper canyons.
Since then I have tried barefoot running a few times, and I’d like to say I have had an injury-free barefoot running experience but my lack of patience was always leading to injury from doing too much too soon.
There is no reason why your experience should be like mine…
With a little patience, you could be running barefoot with confidence.
The first thing to consider is your choice of running shoe!
Choosing a minimal shoe isn’t as hard as you might think.
These days there are a vast number of choices of minimal footwear to choose from with New Balance, Saucony, Nike and most notably, Vibram, with the FiveFingers shoe.
If you are choosing to run barefoot, you will not need to worry too much about cushioning and as for pronation, an inward roll of the foot, well this has been shown to be significantly reduced when running barefoot.
Injury Free Barefoot Running.
An important point to note is If you run heel to toe in minimalist shoes, like you’re probably used to in normal trainers, you will hurt yourself!
You should be looking to land more on the forefoot, this will come naturally and use the stored energy in the Achilles tendon and calf.
Once you get past walking speed, the human body is not designed to land on the heel of the foot.
If your natural foot fall is inclined to heel strike then do not ditch your normal running shoes just yet.
Some people are natural heel strikers, you will still get the benefit from careful barefoot running on soft ground but not 100%.
From personal experience, I cannot stress enough how important it is to go slowly when you are starting out!
The suggested training schedule at the end of this article will help you with easing into injury free Barefoot Running.
Too much too soon can lead to injury and the most common barefoot injuries to watch out for are:
Sudden pain in the muscle and pain on resuming activity
Calf Strain, an Overuse injury.
- Inability to bear weight on the injury
- Swelling, Inflammation, Aching and stiffness
Pain in the heel and back of the ankle especially during activity.
Achilles tendinitis, another overuse injury.
- Aching and stiffness in the heel
- Limping and an inability to bear weight on the heel
Metatarsal stress fractures. Less common but worth being aware of.
- Building pain and tenderness in the mid/front of the foot.
Initially, all of these injuries are best treated with the RICE method and an anti-inflammatory.
If the symptoms persist and become chronic, please consider seeking the advice of your GP.
Especially if you have been running for a while and are looking for a new challenge, my recommendation would be to try barefoot running.
You may find that the change in your running form helps lessen any recurring physiological issues, it will certainly make your feet stronger and may add to your speed and running economy too.
Just remember to take it slow and not expect to run a barefoot marathon on your second outing.
Training schedule to help you on your way to injury free barefoot running.
For the first two weeks
Gently stretch your calves and arches and run no more than 10%-20% of your normal running distance (in traditional shoes) no more than once every other day.
Use foot stretching and self-massage as part of this recovery process for both the feet and the calves.
For week three to twelve
You should continue with gently stretching the calves feet. Increase your running distance each week by 10% if you feel like your body is ready.
Continue to run no more than once every other day and also continue with the post workout foot and calve massage.
After week twelve
Experiment with your distance and frequency, when you feel comfortable with your technique.
Continue to gradually increase your distance.
After each run, continue to carry out your foot stretching and self-massage.
Most importantly, listen to your body, it will let you know when you are ready to progress.
So.. Have you already tried barefoot running or are you new to it all?
What are your thoughts or experiences? Let me know in the comments below.
Till Next Time…
Stay Happy and Healthy.