Saturday, June 16, 2012

Running Barefoot Means No Footwear

The definitive book to get you started on running barefoot.
For most parts of Asia, being barefoot around the home is quite common. In countries blessed with winter months, the use of footwear and the laying of carpeted floors provide warm relief for cold feet. As such, protective feet are seldom released regularly to enjoy the freedom of movement that nature intended it to. With the increasing technological advances in performance shoes for runners and athletes, inroads have been made and proposed on minimalist types of shoes. The paradigm has shifted from highly supported and light, to less supported and lighter.

If you are considering including barefoot running as part of your strength and conditioning program as a runner, here are some guidelines:

1)    Read Barefoot Ted’s book on how to approach this style of running safely. It is fully illustrated and qualified with scientific and anecdotal evidence.
2)    Using minimalist shoes like Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) is NOT considered barefoot running. Using socks only is still not considered barefoot. You must expose the naked skin of your soles entirely.
3)    Barefoot running allows you to engage all your proprioceptors and receptors of your skin.
4)    Barefoot running can be painful, initially, so take it easy with short sessions beginning with 10 minutes, and work up in increments of five minutes at a session. Your tendons, ligaments, muscles and muscle fascia of your feet will take time to adapt to the new forces impressed on them.
5)    You will learn to land low and lightly when barefoot.
6)    There is no need to lean forward. You tend to stay more upright when dynamic (moving).
7)    You will experience a slightly more pronounced bent knee. I have noticed that barefoot runners have more developed muscles of their legs, unlike skinny ones from shod (shoed) runners.
8)    Essentially, the motion and mechanics of barefoot running works from toe-to-heel.
9)    My minor contribution to the art and science of barefoot running is to run in the swimming pool. Running at chest-level water allows you to pump your arms and increase footfall cadence. Running at thigh-level water allows you to simulate uphill running.
10)To increase speed, increase your cadence.

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