There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.
- George Sheehan

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Want to Run in Minimalist Shoes? Run Barefoot First.

I honestly think that minimalist running (shoes such as the Vibram FiveFingers, Merrell Barefoot line, Terra Planna Evos, etc) would work for the majority of people, but the problem (again) is the time it can sometimes take to get there. I see some people jump into a pair of Vibrams and end up hurting themselves two weeks later because they just either don't know to take it super conservatively, or aren't patient/disciplined enough to do it. I love my Vibrams (the four pairs I own ought to prove that!), but the biggest problem I have with them is that they are not truly like running barefoot. I found out the hard way that they deprive you of the important sensory feedback you get from your feet, and allow you to do too much, too soon. When I go barefoot, I know when to stop because my feet tell me to; usually it's the skin on the bottom of my foot telling me it's had enough. That is well before the internal structures of my foot become fatigued. That's why I now believe barefooting is actually safer, especially for someone new to minimalist running. It provides an excellent base to work off of later.

So now if I know of someone interested in trying Vibrams, I always advocate going a month or two barefoot first. I've found that ending regular runs (in shoes) by doing the last few minutes barefoot is a good way to ease into it. It'll teach people proper barefoot form to apply in their Vibrams, and start conditioning their feet for the workload. I didn't do that when I first started wearing Vibrams, and as a result I wasn't educated well into form and wound up with a few minor injuries. Wouldn't have happened if I had just been patient and done some barefoot running first. 

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