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Is barefoot running right for me? Since barefoot running has come to prominence, lots of runners have considered whether or not to try this phenomen. I was once told by a very experienced running coach that more than 90% of runners do not have the technique & strength required to handle barefoot running, or running shoes with minimal support.
We know that one manufacturer, Vibram, in the US has recently settled a huge lawsuit, and is re-imbursing purchasers of five finger barefoot shoes which it was originally claimed could reduce injuries and increase lower limb strength. If you are an experienced runner with good strength and excellent biomechanics and you are considering barefoot running, the following points are a guide….
- Barefoot style shoes require that you run with a mid foot strike, with the foot aligned below the hip & landing around the middle of your foot. If you overstride there will be too much force applied.
- You will need good strength in your foot & ankle muscles. There are lots of muscles in this area which most often are accustomed to shoe support – withdrawing all this support may cause problems. Your Physiotherapist can give you some exercises to help (ideally after they have assessed your running technique to make sure barefoot running is appropriate).
- Gradually build up the km’s and perhaps alternate with your previous running shoes. Start at less then 2km’s and work up gradually.
- Core and gluteal strength are necessary for effective running and to stop any compensations further down the chain at the knee, ankle & foot. Here again your physiotherapist can give you some appropriate exercises or perhaps try some pilates.
- If pain strikes – stop and consult your physiotherapist. Barefoot running is not suitable for everyone and it is not easy.