Thursday, September 20, 2012

5 Steps to Getting Started With Barefoot Running

Ready to try out the latest running trend? If you have struggled with running pain or are just curious about the hype then barefoot running may be something to try. Before you take off your shoes and head out the door it’s important to know the facts. It’s important to get started correctly or you may get hurt.

Healthy feet of an 11-year-old girl who regula...
Healthy feet of an 11-year-old girl who regularly goes barefoot. Note the presence of ideal arches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Step #1: Start Walking Barefoot First

The first step is to start acclimating your feet to being without shoes. Start walking barefoot whenever you can. Walk barefoot around the house, in the park or your yard. You may also want to consider buying a pair of minimal walking shoes. These shoes have a large toe box which gives your toes room to spread out. They also don’t provide any cushioning for your feet. And they’ll have little if any height difference between your heel and your toe. They’re flat.

Step #2: Walk Outside Barefoot for 10 Minutes a Day

The next step is to begin to toughen your feet and strengthen them. Yes, you have muscles in your feet. Now you may be tempted to run at this point. Don’t do it. Spend a week walking outside each day for ten minutes. Walk on the grass. Walk on the sidewalk. Feel the ground beneath your feet and pay attention to how you may walk differently – lighter.

Step #3: Increase Your Walking Time

Start increasing your walking time to fifteen minutes each day and try to transition from the grass or sand to the concrete or asphalt. At this point you may start running for no more than five minutes on grass. Stay off the pavement.

Step #4: Start Running

Assuming your feet are doing okay, minimal aches and pains, you can begin to transition to running on pavement with your bare feet. Again, you may want to keep it to less than five minutes. You can also alternate between running and walking.

English: Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoes, top ...
Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoes, top view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Step #5: Building Your Endurance

Gradually increase the amount of time you can run with bare feet. You’ll probably want to run no more than three or four days a week. Your feet will need a rest.

What About Minimal Shoes?

This step by step schedule is designed for people running barefoot or with minimal shoes. If you’re wearing something like the Five Fingered shoes from Vibram (see our review of these in Saturday's post) then you will still want to take it slowly. You may, however, be able to hit the pavement sooner but take care. If you feel any significant aches or pains, take it down a notch. You’ve been wearing shoes for decades; it takes time for your feet to adjust to feeling and responding with the ground in this new form.

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