Running Barefoot – Are You Crazy?

Anyone else curious about barefoot running? (not now, I mean, it is still winter)

I’ve never met anyone who is a fan, though I know people who have friends who have tried it. And, I’ve been passed by barefoot guys on marathon courses. So I know they’re out there.

What’s the big deal? If you’re curious, you can find out more at The Running Barefoot.

The website likened barefoot running to learning to sing with earplugs in: “If we wear earplugs while trying to learn to sing, rather than helping us improve our singing, the earplugs simply allow us to be unaware of when we are singing badly.”

Last July, the Barefoot Ken Bob held a barefoot running clinic in Omaha. Judging by the pictures of it, there were several interested people there.

What are your thoughts on this barefoot phenomenon?

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About kareiner

I'm an active mom who loves to cook. I'm passionate about health and fitness. I'm no expert, nutritionist, personal trainer or miracle worker. I just like being active and I like good food.
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6 Responses to Running Barefoot – Are You Crazy?

  1. Rebecca Bush says:

    I am excited about the barefoot experience. I am not a runner, but I work as a security guard at an art museum, spending up to 7 hours a day walking. Since switching to minimal shoes in September, I’ve strengthened my feet & leg muscles to the point of being able to spend all day on my feet with virtually no fatigue! I was inspired by listening to the audio book version of “Born to Run” and while I’m not sure about all the author’s theories, I have had an excellent personal experience with wearing less on my feet.

  2. Teegan Hand says:

    Barefoot running is something that I have had a lot of positive effects from. I am a young runner, running roughly 20 miles a week barefoot on concrete bike trails. I have noticed that since I have started running barefoot the arches of my feet have strengthened and can be clearly seen from my footprint. It has also reduced my injuries in the past. During my previous football season I was plagued with an injury to both of my tibialis muscles, what I felt was something that can be described as severe shin splints. This was an issue that I had not experienced since my sophomore year, but had not bothered me since I had begun training barefoot with our sprint coach. But the summer leading into my senior year that coach wasn’t working with us anymore so I stopped training barefoot, months later the injuries came back with a new rigor. Since I’ve been running my legs have been as healthy as ever.

    The problem with modern running shoes is that with the extra support and cushion it allows you to run the wrong way. If you observe the strides of many runners running in modern shoes you will notice that many land on the heel of the foot, this causes severe stress on the knees and many other parts of the body. Running barefoot allows your body to correct your running form so that it can protect itself. When running barefoot it is much harder to run of the heel because the heel has no means of reducing impact so the pain is tremendous. Your foot is also perfectly designed to absorb impact of running. Adding a shoe to them weakens the muscles in the foot that allows impact absorption.

    • kareiner says:

      Teegan – This may be a silly question, but is there a process to starting to run barefoot? Do you jump right in and do your next full run barefoot, or is it gradual? Do you notice/feel the little rocks on the trail?

      I love being barefoot, so the idea of barefoot running intrigues me. But, I worry about rocks and unseen glass.

      • Teegan Hand says:

        Actually this is a good question and it depends a lot on the individual. For most people the adjustment should be gradual. I would recommend jogging in grass or doing a small part of your run barefoot. Making sure to emphasize landing on the ball pad of your foot, once your shoes are off your body will naturally correct some of your form issues so the run should feel natural. But doing too much to start off with can shock your calves and Achilles which can cause more issues. Starting off slow allows the muscles in your calves and arches to adjust to the new tension and work load. I did notice after running barefoot for the first time that my calves were extremely tight, this is normal as they are not used to the new running form. But post running stretching did wonders for them and I felt fine the next day.

        But rocks and glass can be a different story. I do most of my barefoot running on concrete bike paths so that I know that for the most part rocks aren’t going to be an issue. I will still catch some small rocks every once in a while but for the most part you can just brush them off and keep going, your feet will get much tougher as they start to callous from the ground. But the best thing to do to truly protect yourself is to be aware of the trail. Knowing what is in front of you is the best thing you can do to save your feet.

        But realistically on some trails avoiding rocks is impossible. This is much of the reason why we see the popularity of barefoot running shoes growing. Things like the vibram five-finger and New Balance Minimus are designed to shield the foot while still allowing the foot to work naturally.

  3. Robinson says:

    I’m a little late to the party posting here – but I have been running in Vibrams since the beginning of the year, and just started working on barefoot running this week. If I can take a shot at responding to your questions of ” Do you jump right in and do your next full run barefoot, or is it gradual? Do you notice/feel the little rocks on the trail?” Based on my experience –

    Definitely take it slow and gradual. If you over do the barefoot/minimalist running you will wipe your calf out. I did this at the very beginning of my running in them – and just recently when I put a big hill into it – after primarily doing flat!

    On the Barefoot side – I ran slowly and noticed the rocks/pebbles but as Teeganhand pointed out – you can brush them off and keep going. I did a mile the following day (last night) and did it at a much faster (for me) pace. I am now sporting two ripped up toes, and blisters on each feet. I will keep it up, but will shorten my distance from a mile at speed – to 1/4 mile or so, and focus on HOW i am running. Anywhere I feel pain or rubbing (a hot spot) I am going to start looking at the why.

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