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Beginners Guide To Barefoot Running

A barefoot woman running on a beach with clouds in the background.

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barefoot running

The biggest, most revolutionary change in the world of training shoes in recent years came with the declaration and belief that such an item should be entirely obsolete. Whereas the conventional wisdom in the world of running was, until this point, that the human foot could benefit from additional support and cushioning when partaking in high impact exercises, the new theories went that the exact opposite was true.

Now that the trend has been in full swing for a couple of years, what can we learn from these beliefs? Are barefoot running enthusiasts correct in their assertion that their new method is more beneficial to the runner’s feet?


Making The Transition To Barefoot Running

Barefoot Running

The logic behind barefoot running, and indeed the reason that the trend began, stemmed from the belief that Western styles of running caused injuries to the runners’ feet due to the way their feet had been conditioned to hit the ground as they ran – this was in part attributable to cushioning of popular sport shoe designs and in contrast to Kenyan runners who often partake in their running with no additional support at all but manage to remain injury free.


Running Shoes

Whilst trying to emulate the achievements of barefoot runners, the industry has embraced the minimalist shoe trend and it has now reached the point where 15 per cent of all running shoes sold are now in the minimalist style – the consequences of which are now being seen. As many fitness enthusiasts have begun to embrace the new minimal shoe trend, an increase in injuries has begun to crop up as runners’ bodies are failing to make the switch between footwear style.


Injury Risks

Due to the different styles in running which are needed between barefoot style and traditional style, those who have been over eager to suddenly down tools and adopt the former technique have found themselves at a sustained and increased risk of injury including potential stretch fractures according to findings in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Keen to jump on board the fad, many individuals have transitioned to new techniques with little care and ended up injuring, rather than giving benefit, to their body.

The injuries mainly occur due to the impact inflicted on the runner’s bones – the normal healing process of the body occurs through a remodelling process where the body will attempt to fix areas that have been impacted on. However, barefoot running can cause injury due to inflicting too much stress, too quickly to areas of the body which have no experience of being impacted upon.


How To Transition

The key then, for those who are serious about pursuing barefoot running is to not do so at first. Transitioning slowly, from standard running styles, to barefoot running is essential and, as noted above, forsaking patience can cause real damages. For barefoot running novices, and for those attempting the technique for the first time, the ideal approach would be to run a small distance and do so delicately just like those taking up running for the first time would. From here it’s possible, after rest in between sessions, to build up distances as the foot builds up resistance to the impact barefoot running causes.



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