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Barefoot running is as it sounds. It is the process of running without any footwear or protection from the outside environment. During the cold wintertime, you can imagine this sounds mad so why do people do it? 
 
This style of running requires good strength and conditioning of all foot muscles/calf prior to running with no shoes. However, when done correctly can create increased sensory feedback (proprioception) of your feet with the ground, which allows greater activation of foot and ankle musculature to restore optimum movement of the feet, knees, ankles and hips. 
 
If it is so good for you, then why have we never seen an elite athlete run a competitive race barefoot? Running barefoot should always be done in a controlled or training environment such as on a track, indoors or on a private grass pitch. 
 
Just imagine watching Elite Marathon competitors running down the road and stepping on stones, chewing gum and goodness knows what going through the local parks barefoot! 
 
Also compared to other racers who may be wearing protection on their feet against the elements whilst you run barefoot, it can be detrimental and disadvantageous when competing. In other words, they would have a big advantage. 

What should I consider before trying this? 

Something to consider before running with no shoes is that you will not be able to run the same distance straight away barefoot compared to wearing a protective shoe. There needs to be a build-up of up to 3 months with strength and conditioning prior to you starting. 
 
This will help the gradual transition from shoe to no shoe. Your foot strength must be built up first to help prevent injury and it may take some time for the skin on your feet to harden and adapt to different surfaces. 
 
The sensors in the skin under your feet will relay information back to your brain telling you when the distance you have ran is enough and when to stop. This will come in the form of your feet beginning to ache or the skin on your feet starting to rub away or become uncomfortable. 
 
Now I know this all just sounds really unpleasant, so why do people do it? By carrying out strengthening exercises and wearing no shoes over a period of time, you are less likely to develop knee/hip injuries whilst running due to your optimal biomechanics being restored. 
 
However, as you can imagine, you are at a slightly higher risk of developing foot/ankle injuries due to wearing no protection underfoot. 
 
So when weighing up your options to see if this is for you, make sure that you: 
 
Ask your local Fire and Earth therapist to assess your biomechanics to pick up any injury risk and resolve it prior to starting. 
Do your strengthening homework before running. 
Gradually build up your exposure over a long period of time 
Listen to what your feet are telling you 
Perform this is a safe and controlled environment 
 
To get in touch or to book your appointment online – Click here 
Tagged as: lifestyle, running, training
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