Do you go bare? Barefoot running is the latest craze, especially in the primal / ‘move naturally’ (MOVNAT) community, so here’s our run-down on the what, where, and why of this minimal-soled business to help you decide whether to toss the cushioned pillows you have been getting around on and adopt their barer counterpart or not.
So what is barefoot running (or walking)? Well it is not necessarily getting around with no shoes, that could be a little unhygienic in some parts, it is rather getting back to our grassroots and most natural way of running. Sometimes barefoot, but most often in a minimal soled shoe, that allows our feet to re-adapt their designed strength and stability by removing the cushion and support we get from a standard running shoe.
Advocates of this suggest that it helps in injury prevention, and foot and knee stability by fostering the correct running style of a forefoot strike rather than the heel strike that is so common today. You can read more info about that in THIS STUDY.
As with all wellness concepts, barefooting might not be for everyone and it does need to be transitioned into slowly so as not to cause injury and pain. After all, if your body has been used to gallivanting around in cushy-clouds for the past 10 (or more) years, you can’t just strip away all of that and expect there not be an adjustment. Your feet, knees and calves especially need to learn to stabilize themselves again and start to recruit all those muscles that have been kicking back on the couch being lazy for the past decade. In the famous words of the Pantene advertisement, ‘It won’t happen overnight but it will happen’. Mark Sisson has some great advice for those transitioning to a barefoot shoe.
Vibram 5 fingers. Seen them? They kinda look like monkey feet. Some think a bit creepy but the wearers generally rave about them. They are the extreme in the barefoot running shoe. Don’t worry though, not all barefoot shoes have individual toe pockets. Many shoe companies are now embracing the barefoot concept and creating an offering to bring to market so chances are your favourite brand will likely have an option with a more minimal sole for you.
So, are you ready to let your feet get their mojo back yet? Or are you going to continue to swaddle those babies in foam?