A lot has been written recently about barefoot running, as well as minimalistic running (running in a “minimal” shoe – one that is thin and light-weight). I think it is great, but I urge a note of caution.
The big push for barefoot/minimalistic running comes from the idea that it will reduce running injuries and encourage our bodies to run more efficiently. Efficient running consists of: short, quick strides/your feet landing lightly under your body on the midfoot-forefoot area (the ball of the foot, but not the toes)/a slight lean forward/relaxed arm swing. Check out this cool video to get a visual.
It is true that running in your bare feet or in a minimal type shoe does help you have a better running form. However, please build up gradually. I suggest slowly adding some barefoot running into your schedule – starting with just a few minutes in the grass once or twice a week. I wrote about this in a 2008 blog post, mentioning that running barefoot helps strengthen the tendons and muscles of the foot.
The same is true for minimal type shoes – build up to it. You will be recruiting some leg muscles that are not used to working out as much, so take it slow. I will not go into the various shoes that one might call minimalistic (Newton, Vibram Fivefingers….) since I have not tried them myself. I will leave that to those more experienced…..which leads me to a Tri Clinic that Tri-Maine is hosting with the city of Portland. Someone from Maine Running Company will be there presenting a talk on Minimalistic Running. They’ll give you a much better take on the whole barefoot/minimalistic issue.
Check out the info here. It is Sunday April 11th at the Riverton Pool and Community Center out on Forest Ave. I will also be there to give a session on Athlete Self Care. I’ll be talking about things that you can do to reduce your chances for injuries as you train. There will be bike and swim presentations as well, so if you are a triathlete (or an aspiring one) – come check it out.