Thursday, May 26, 2011

Barefoot Running is Bad and a Healthy Transition to Barefoot Running



So maybe you're not sure about barefoot running or you believe it's a bunch of hippie granola hokum, maybe a Commie plot to misdirect the Youth of Today away from materialistic concerns. Whatever your skepticism, feel free to visit Barefoot Running is Bad, a website dedicated to saying, you guessed it, that barefoot running is bad. I was intrigued but then disappointed to find that the website is not based on educating people, but rather refuting the barefoot running establishment by basically saying "are not!" to barefoot running's "are too!" I am always happy to hear an opposing view, unless it opposes my own, but I wish the author had set out to illuminate more than simply object.

If after visiting, you're still thinking of giving it the old barefoot try...


According to Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run), anyone can make the transition to barefoot running within three weeks. The underlying philosophy of the barefoot running movement, however, is that runners should listen to what their feet are telling them. For people who have grown up wearing shoes, the transition to barefoot running should be done slowly rather than suddenly.

In his book, Barefoot Running, Michael Sandler offers the following 10 tips for making the shod to barefoot transition:
  1. Go slow - consider starting with 100 yards and add to that gradually.
  2. Let your skin be your guide - feel the ground and learn to run lightly.
  3. Build foot strength - between runs, do foot-strengthening exercises.
  4. Focus on form - transitioning demands greater focus on what your body is doing.
  5. Leave the iPod and ego behind - pay attention and start slowly.
  6. Get balanced - work on balance and symmetrical strength.
  7. Get loose - stretch!
  8. Get aligned - misalignment creates overuse injuries.
  9. Go bare - find a variety of surfaces and out of shoes.
  10. Learn to rest - barefoot running does not eliminate the need for recovery.

16 comments:

  1. I've started to do my cool down, after trackwork, barefoot. It allows me to get a little BF work and get a better feel for my mechanics, plus it feels good to run on the well kept grass of the track infield...but I don't think I'll ever leave my trainers behind & fully convert.

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  2. I'm such a pansy.
    Too scared to try it.

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  3. That site is hilarious! Didn't know it existed, but then again, not surprising either.

    Yes, go slow!!!

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  4. The guy who runs that site is a JOKE!!!!! I have only sustained injuries while running in SHOES!!!!!!

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  5. Slow and steady. Slow and steady!

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  6. As I've mentioned before, I find it hilarious that people need to go all in on something and then try to beat their beliefs into everyone else. It's tiring and serves as a reminder of why I always am careful to be "in" something and not "of" something. I can think of at least 50 things more important in a training program than whether or not you wear shoes when you run.

    Hopefully the uber-evangelists on both side of the equation will start a running war with each other which will assure mutual destruction vis a vis plantar fasciitis and they'll all be sidelined.

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  7. I do some warm up runs bare foot at the track. It feels good, but I am not sure a whole run would.
    I am clumsy so i think I will pass!!

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  8. Keep the reports coming Kovas. It is interesting to see someone who is realistic go through the process.

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  9. "unless it opposes my own" is awesome! I would also love to see a more scientific debate. It seems to me that most runners are heel strikers, I mean, it's how we naturally walk. Thus the giant cushioned heels on many of the new shoes. To me, to be an effective barefoot runner, you would have to master a mid-foot strike, like Chi running for example. I think the one danger in barefoot running, or all of the minimalist and toe shoes that are on the front display of every shoe store, is that runners will become injured if they don't run with the correct form. Plus it bugs me that we all are like sheep and will buy whatever is hot. I think shoes stores could literally put empty Folgers coffee cans on display as the new thing and many runners would use them (not saying that's why you're trying the barefoot thing ... I know you're much more thoughtout than that!) Best wishes.

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  10. I tried it... it was weird. And it hippied me out... I started twirling around in the street under the streetlight. It might have had something to do with the skirt and the music as well... did you see the video?

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  11. heading off to check it out!

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  12. Love your posts...this one is to the point, a bit of humor, and easy to read without poking my eyes out! Oh, and I love the easy Tips! I will try Barefoot running once or twice this summer just to strengthen my feet. :)

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  13. I looked at the anti-barefoot site and had to wonder: Are people really making all these claims based on barefoot running? Or is it more tongue and cheek?

    I tore my achilles two years ago, so barefoot running is one fad I will never take up. But some people really seem to enjoy it, and without injuries, so I say hurray for them.

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  14. Great post. If you're going to try make sure to take time and GRADUALLY increase mileage. Those of you who run long distances will find it difficult to restrain.

    You trying it Kovas?

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  15. Thanks for the tips and that website cracked me up!

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  16. That is one crazy website. Really people? So many zealous out there. Who cares. As for EMZ's comment.... yeah she's such a pansy. Give me a break, it pains me to say it, but she's a total stud.

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