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Barefoot running...good idea?

Jolt2010-05-01 12:09:31 +0000 #1
I've been reading a lot of stuff lately about barefoot running/walking (as long as one builds up to it gradually) being beneficial for strengthening the feet and helping with proper form and also that modern running shoes may be increasing the risk of injury. What do you guys think? Obviously this isn't the season for running barefoot outside (at least in northern parts of the country) but there's always the treadmill or indoor track. I'm inclined to think that it would be good to work up to running barefoot (or in the Vibram Five Fingers for protection against broken glass and other junk on the ground) at least some of the time given that our feet weren't exactly designed to be in shoes all the time, but a little nervous about trying it.
Biciclista2010-05-01 12:17:07 +0000 #2
try it on an indoor track. walk around barefoot more. Don't expect your shoe feet to suddenly be comfortable being bare. it takes a while to build muscle and callous.

Your feet were designed to carry you throughout your life. But you've had them in shoes for most of them. People who go barefoot all the time develop muscles in their feet that get soft in shoes. If you do a little searching on the subject you will find there are groups of people promoting being barefoot.

And Those shoes you are talking about, the 5 fingers are great if they fit you. They did not fit me, so that was that.

Another shoe that i found to be very good is the Nike FREE. IT appears that they are being discontinued, but that's what i've been wearing for the last 2 years; as they allow your feet to move like they are supposed to.
Jolt2010-05-01 12:26:25 +0000 #3
I do walk around barefoot (or in socks when it's cold) at home. In a little while I am going to the Y since the weather has been really rotten here today and I think I will give it a try on the indoor track after finishing the rest of the workout. As for the Five Fingers, they do fit me pretty well (the toes are a little long, but that's not a major issue) so those will be an option for outside when the weather is warmer and I run in places that might have glass etc. Currently I use them when I go to the rock gym.
Urlea2010-05-01 12:55:06 +0000 #4
I used to run barefoot on the dreadmill. This is before I knew the worth of good running shoes. My knees killed me afterward every time.

When I was in FL this fall I ran about three miles barefoot on the beach. (Pictures of my blisters are on my blog.) One of the best runs of my life and the softer surface didn't cause any knee pain.

My husband uses the Vibram five fingers & loves them. Especially for trail running where it's nice to be able to use your toes to help grip the ground. I plan to try them this spring, but for now am just getting used to toe socks.

I'm sure it's just one of those things your body can adapt to. To me it's worth trying, but I'm guessing it will take time to build up calluses and proper form.
Crankin2010-05-01 12:46:16 +0000 #5
I don't know about this...

I think every part of my feet and legs would be in agony, along with my back.

On the way home from a ride this summer, I was trying to beat an impending deluge of rain. It was thundering and lightening violently. I was almost back to my friend's house when i passed a man running barefoot, in just a skimpy Speedo like pair of shorts and no shirt. I had to blink a few times before I saw how little he had on! Then he yelled at me because I was trying to give him room and he yelled back that i was in the lane and a car was coming. It was very weird.
OakLeaf2010-05-01 13:27:31 +0000 #6
I'm just trying to wean myself off orthotics, so I'm not really one to talk, but it seems to me that running on hard flat surfaces like a gym floor is an "advanced class." My instinct is that you'd want a considerable amount of time building your foot and leg muscles running barefoot on trails or beach, before attacking the flat stuff.

I do blame my foot problems on wearing shoes as a child, but that's just a guess really.

Dr. Jolie Bookspan's blog: discusses foot health in several posts: . I've just begun reading her and finding that her ideas "fit" with other things I'm working on like Chi Running and good body mechanics generally.
Jolt2010-05-01 12:44:32 +0000 #7
Well, I did give it a try tonight on that track. I ran on the treadmill (with shoes) for about 15 minutes and then got off because I was having some pain in the inside/back of my left knee. Then I went up to the track and ran barefoot up there for about five minutes, and it felt great. However, after I finished stretching and started down the stairs to leave the building, I noticed some twinges in that left IT band area--dang it!! Given the discomfort I had on the treadmill, I am inclined to think that's what did it but I am not sure--that track is fairly small and is banked though I did alternate direction on it. So I am taking Aleve, icing, foam rolling, stretching and taking a few days off before trying to run again. The weird thing is I don't even think the IT band is tight at this point, and foam rolling/rolling on the ball on the floor doesn't really hurt in that area this time. That's sort of bad news because it means it's not just vastus lateralis trigger points (which aren't that hard to get under control) this time. Ugh.
Tuckervill2010-05-01 14:58:31 +0000 #8
My 15 yo son has spent his entire life barefoot, about 95% of the time. Only in the last six months has he worn shoes and socks regularly, and that's just to go to the gym and work out. He goes barefoot around the house, and we keep a pair of flip-flops or slides by the door or in the car for when we need to go in a store or something.

His feet are TOUGH. He takes no mind of the weather, unless there is snow or ice (rare, here). He can run on gravel. He runs faster without shoes than he does with shoes.

I wouldn't recommend running barefoot without working up to it. Walking around the house and going out in the yard, stretching out the feet specifically. Building up callouses. My son's feet are like leather on the bottom, but surprisingly, they don't have the same kind of dry cracking issues that I have, wearing socks all the time.

There is a whole movement, as you said, about being unshod. We're not part of the movement--he just had sensitivity issues with shoes and socks from an early age. Having those tough feet are just a pleasant side effect of our homeschooling lifestyle. I shudder to think what our life would have been like if I had to force him to wear shoes for school!




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