Barefoot running makes more use of your calves, lower leg musculature and requires greater muscular strength to stabilize the foot, dealing with nuance of movement through the tarsals. This amazing use of muscle tissue goes relatively unnoticed by most people. Running, I’m finding as I work on it slowly, is a totally different beast barefoot.
I started recently and have enjoyed what I’m learning as I go. Having only practiced yoga for exercise for years it’s novel to feel sore in new areas and wake up my body, particularly my legs and feet. My first real run was walk, run, walk run for about 30 minutes. I admit with chagrin that my legs gave out before my heart. My legs are very weak.
Soleus and gastrocnemius are two main culprits but my feet also hurt the next day. Walking was slightly painful and I gave myself a week to stretch, have the pain go away before I attempted another short run today. Stretching and mobilizing my ankles helps with any soreness I have and I admit finding downward facing dog pose more enjoyable than usual due to its stretch through both the calves and the plantar fascia.
The spring that comes from proper biomechanics is taking all of the joint jarring issues I’ve had with the idea of running away. Running barefoot, even this small amount I’m doing makes me feel I’m using my body as it’s designed to be used for running. I notice that I don’t feel a jarring shock from hitting my heel first. The balls of my feet hit then soften the impact when my heel does lightly strike.
Overall I’m sold. I look forward to learning more about my legs and feet. If you decide to try barefoot running, go slow. Slow and steady wins the race. This is definitely a marathon.