The Basics of Barefoot Running - Laura Briggs

The Basics of Barefoot Running - Laura Briggs

Active Root Ambassador Laura Briggs is a prolific Ultra Runner, the Running Mayor of Somerset, and can always be found out on the trails barefoot! In this blog Laura gives us her top tips for getting into Barefoot running. Barefoot running is what it says on the tin, it's the practice of running either in bare feet or in thin shoes with minimal padding. Barefoot running has risen in popularity recently because advocates of it believe that it reduces injuries, and some people just love feeling closer to nature!

Please note, barefoot running is not for everyone. Caution should be taken when transitioning into barefoot running and it is important to build up mileage slowly.

We’re so used to shoes, and the choice for cushioned running trainers is overwhelming – but do we really need the cushioning? Some think not. I’m in that camp – I believe that you need to use your feet in order to keep them strong, and to run with a more natural gait. For many it means fewer injuries, and it’s a great way of connecting with the earth. It might not be for everyone, but barefoot running certainly has its advantages – for me I’ve been totally blister-free, I run more comfortably, and it actually has less impact on the joints.

The journey into barefoot running shouldn’t be a quick one. Slow and steady is key to reawakening your feet.

1. Less is more At the beginning of transitioning from trainers to minimalist shoes or total barefoot, you need to strengthen your feet. Begin by walking around the house with no shoes on for a few minutes a day, and gradually build this time up.

2. Exercise your feet Like any other part of our bodies, building up stamina and strength is key to success. Take a hard ball and use it to roll underneath your foot. Stand on it, focusing on the arch. Try “toe yoga” – with exercises such as trying to pick a sock up with one foot and passing it to the other, or standing with your feet flat on the floor while raising your big toes only, then pushing your big toes into the floor and lifting the other toes.

3. Break in your shoes If you’re starting with minimalist or Fivefinger shoes, then make sure you’ve broken them in first so your feet are used to them. Just wear them around the house first before you take them outside.

4. Choose a soft landing For your first forays outside, pick a surface that’s soft, clean, and hazard free. Think your local park or recreation ground. You don’t want to start off on a gravel or rocky path.

5. Expect some discomfort at first As you transition to barefoot running, you’ll most likely notice a gentle pulling sensation when you’re not running, in your calves or your Achilles. Make sure you give your body plenty of rest if you’re feeling any pain, but some feelings are normal as your ligaments and muscles stretch through your new running technique.

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