Barefoot running was never something that I had recommended to me as an athlete, and as a result, I didn’t try it. So, I’m keen to explore the development of barefoot running through my own investigation and with the added help of top level podiatrists. Ultimately, should you try barefoot running or are you better off sticking with trainers?
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I did find that barefoot running felt really nice on the plantar fascia on the bottom of my foot, an area that I find gets tight when doing a high running volume in my trainers. It naturally stretched it out and let the foot move as it is designed to. On the other hand, I did feel my calves working harder, something that is expected with barefoot running. If you do want to incorporate more barefoot running into your training, then plenty of stretches of the calves and strengthening exercises will help the transition.
As much as I enjoyed taking my shoes off and running free it made me realise that most of the western world is not suitable for actual barefoot running due to the surfaces and external environmental factors. If I did take barefoot running further I’d start by introducing some running in a more minimalist shoe to at least give me some protection.
I am not going to change anything dramatically after this investigation. I had so many injuries as a young athlete that had a lot to do with my gait and control and I’m not willing to risk returning to the basics and reduce my ability to run long distances and race as I can now. Simply, if it’s not broken then don’t fix it.
However, I will say that I think my foot muscles have got lazy and I’m going to reintegrate some barefoot work at the end of hard session such as warming down on grass and doing a little conditioning work in the sand when conditions permit.
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