Don’t try to do too much, too soon when switching over to minimalist or barefoot running.
Are you thinking about throwing away your running shoes? Are you excited about the prospect of going primal and feeling the earth beneath your feet as you run? Many coaches and athletes claim barefoot running can improve your efficiency and prevent injury. Well, it can—but only if you do it right!
In this video, San Francisco-based sports chiropractor Dr. Hal Rosenberg shares some of his most important tips for runners looking to try barefoot or minimalist running.
1. Avoid The Wholesale Switch
If you have been running in shoes most of your life and one day decide to ditch them, there’s a good chance you’ll get injured. According to Rosenberg, the biggest mistake many wanna-be barefoot runners make is quickly transitioning from shoes to no shoes. A more sound strategy is to ease into it instead. Start with some shorter runs and then add mileage as your feet slowly adapt to new stress. Better yet, spend more time barefoot at home and in minimalist shoes while running errands. Your feet will get stronger while you’re just going about your day.
2. Read The Signs
Our earliest ancestors probably didn’t run on hard concrete everyday. Nor did they spend their entire lives in cushioned shoes. It’s important to listen to your body. Be thoughtful of where you run and how you’re running. If you wake up with sore feet, heel pain or a tight Achilles, you’re probably moving too fast too soon or pounding too much concrete. Slow down your transition and spend more time on soft surfaces such as a grass field or a dirt trail.
3. There Is No Magic Pill
“Two thirds of your body weight is two thirds off the ground,” says Rosenberg, “So you better learn how to stabilize it!”
Switching to more minimalist running shoes (or to no shoes at all) will not perfect your running form by itself. Spend equal time developing your core strength, posture and cadence, and your transition to barefoot running will happen more naturally.
This is the third installment in The Run Experience series. Look for more in the following weeks! In the meantime, check out more videos to help you become a better runner at The Run Experience.
About The Author:
Nate Helming coaches strength and mobility for national and international-level road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes and ultrarunners at San Francisco CrossFit, as well as elite-level amateur runners and triathletes outside the gym. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter and check out his videos on The Run Experience YouTube channel.