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Trend in Fitness: Barefoot Running

At first thought this topic must sound utterly ridiculous.  I can only imagine the visions of welted feet and calloused toes that must have been going through your mind when you read the title.  However, I am hoping that after reading this post and watching the video below you will further investigate barefoot running.

The concept is simple, the human body has only been running in shoes with significant heel cushioning for the last 50 years.  It hasn’t been until only recently in human evolution that we started to change our stride.  Harvard professor, Daniel Liberman, and his colleagues have been investigating the difference in shod running versus barefoot running http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/.  The evidence is clear, barefoot “style” running produces much less impact on the foot, ankles, knees, hips and back.  Take the time to watch this video explaining why from the Barefoot Professor Himself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE

Are you convinced?  What are your thoughts?  If you are thinking about trying make sure to follow these simple rules:

1. Build up slowly! If you vigorously work out any weak muscles in your body, they will be sore and stiff. Your foot and calf muscles will be no exception. So please, don’t overdo it because you will probably injure yourself if you do too much too soon.

2. Start by walking around barefoot frequently.
– First week: no more than a quarter mile to one mile every other day.
– Increase your distance by no more than 10% per week. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a general guide. If your muscles remain sore, do not increase your training. Take an extra day off or maintain your distance for another week.
– Stop and let your body heal if you experience pain. Sore, tired muscles are normal, but bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a signal of injury.
– Be patient and build gradually. It takes months to make the transition.

3. If you are currently running a lot, you don’t need to drastically reduce your mileage. Instead, supplement forefoot or midfoot striking with running the way that you normally ran before beginning the transition. Over the course of several months, gradually increase the proportion of forefoot or midfoot striking and reduce the proportion of running in your old style. Use the same 10% per week guideline in increasing the amount of running you do forefoot striking.

4. It is essential to stretch your calves and hamstrings carefully and regularly as you make the transition. Massage your calf muscles and arches frequently to break down scar tissue. This will help your muscles to heal and get stronger

5. Listen to your feet. Stop if your arches are hurting, if the top of your foot is hurting, or if anything else hurts! Sometimes arch and foot pain occurs from landing with your feet too far forward relative to your hips and having to point your toes too much. It can also occur from landing with too rigid a foot and not letting your heel drop gently.

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