Barenaked feet

Barefoot Shoes
Barenaked feet

Have you ever tried barefoot running? I’m still running on a treadmill, in trainers, and I’m not very good at that yet so I haven’t been tempted to graduate to running barefoot yet. I’m not even sure that I will ever run totally barefoot , but plenty of people do. It’s on the edges of becoming the next big thing in fitness though, so if you’re interested, here’s a low-down:

You don’t actually have to go barefoot.

There are actually shoes designed for barefoot running! Yes, I know that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but there are specially designed ranges – like the Vibram FiveFingers® range, or Nike Free Run.

It makes you run more efficiently

Although your performance only improves by about 4%, it’s still an improvement! It’s down to the fact that your foot tends to work better without being restricted by trainers or footwear.

There’s less chance of injuring yourself

Running in a barefoot shoe means you’re more aware of the position your feet are in, which makes it less likely that you’re going to sprain anything. Your foot also naturally compensates for the lack of cushioning, which means you get a softer landing, and that helps to prevent shin splints.

It makes your foot muscles stronger

Think about what happens when you support your leg or arm in a plaster after a break; the muscles get weaker. The same happens with running in normal running shoes, the muscles that should naturally support your foot can lose strength.

Experts don’t recommend totally barefoot running, but the next best thing (unless you have access to a gorgeous beach to run down and don’t have to depend on suburban parks and pavements) is minimalist running shoes.

If you do fancy having a go at it, make sure you get the right shoes, and break yourself in gently. You have to train your foot and leg muscles as they’re used to being supported and it feels a bit different to start with. Experts suggest alternate day runs in normal shoes and then minimalist shoes to start with, which should reduce the risk of injury from confused leg muscles.

Starting off on a smooth, flat surface is kinder to your feet, as is stretching and even massaging your feet before and after. Don’t run for too long when you first start; your feet need to get used to the new regime. There’s plenty of advice online if you want to have a go – let me know how you get on!

About the author

For 25 years, Spa Seekers have been helping people throughout the UK to relax, refresh and revive at the very best spas.

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