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So, You Want to Start Running . . . May 10, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Running , 4comments

. . . and you don’t have the money to get Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs)?  Well, you’re in luck.  You have everything you need to start running the way we were designed . . . right now.  It sounds a bit different or strange to think you don’t need the latest, greatest, most high tech running shoes on the market often costing in excess of $100.  You were born with the perfect equipment for running . . . your feet.  Unfortunately, we’ve been weakening our feet most of our lives by putting them in shoes that over-support, over-protect, and therefore eliminate the exercise we should be getting from walking and running around in our bare feet.

We were born barefoot.  We learn to walk barefoot.  When you take your shoes off your feet, you feel the ground.  This sensory input gives us the feedback that shapes the way we walk and run.  The most common response I’ve gotten from people when I tell them I run barefoot is, “Doesn’t that hurt?!”  Well, no, it doesn’t.  Of course, to start running barefoot, you must remember this rule above all else . . . START SLOW!  Sorry to yell at you, but this rule is paramount.  If you don’t follow this rule, the benefits of barefoot running will be lost to you as you are not allowing enough time for your foot to recover from the solitary confinement of your shoes.  It’s just like having a cast . . . do you remember what your muscle looked like after coming out of a cast?  You lose muscle.  Another thing you don’t see is that without the appropriate stress on your bones, they get weaker.

The second response I get when I tell people about my barefooting is that people are worried about rocks, glass, etc. found on the ground.  I’ve chosen to predominantly begin running on the sidewalk which has a nice contrast with most pebbles, which can hurt if you don’t see them but that pain tells you to be more gentle until you get that pebble off your foot.  So far, my longest run barefoot has been 1.5 miles and I haven’t had any problems with glass shards, hypodermic needles, or used razor blades.

There is so much information out there to read about running barefoot.  Many blogs dedicated to barefoot running.  Recently, Michael Sandler wrote an instructional book about barefoot running.  His book is getting great reviews, but unfortunately I haven’t yet received my copy so I can’t give you my review.  His blog, runbare.com has a lot of great information on transitioning into barefoot running.

Don’t let the lack of VFFs stop you from running.  Get back to your natural form of running barefoot and “listen” to your soles.