Barefoot Running pt.2

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.

Barefoot Running

Is barefoot running better for you? Over the years I’ve come to realize that the body is so complex I’ll never figure it all out. One of the things that confound me is feet.

Feet are extremely complex structures and as the base of the entire body, help set the posture for the rest of your frame. Flat feet, fallen arches, bone spurs and other issues can be horrible for people and as a massage therapist I can work muscle tissue but fix flat feet? I still don’t know what’s possible.

I started hearing from clients about barefoot running and upon doing research found it hysterical to see that people are debating whether you should run on the balls of your feet or hit with the heel first. It’s the 21st century and we’re having debates about the most rudimentary of physical activities.

As someone without major foot issues I still find the barefoot running arguments interesting. I decided it was time to find out for myself. I ordered a pair of Vibrams, or Vibram five fingers and am very happy with what I see so far. As a yoga teacher I spend time barefoot often but these allow me to do daily activities with that same feel, the same sense of what’s going on beneath me.

I’m already aware of my feet but these take it to a new level. All day? Yep, they fit like a glove and even walking in a supermarket I can feel the temperature underneath my feet change when I walk into the frozen food section. Small distinctions from arch to arch can be felt and my bias towards my left foot is obvious. Do they fix flat feet? I’ve no clue.

Do your research on barefoot running. Read articles and keep shoes handy but I’m sold. I’ve done no other exercise for years and these make me want to go out and run. I’ll be challenging myself soon to start a basic jogging regimen and I’m excited to see what it will be like using these minimalist shoes.