Barefoot Training – Strength from the Ground Up!

Did you know that the human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and 20 muscles? It also has an intricate composition of receptors, tendons and ligaments.

If you have yet to let those toes out since winter, it’s time for some ped-treatment!  Take off the socks and the shoes that bind your feet.  Like any other part of your incredible organism, your feet need stimulation and strengthening!

There are numerous benefits to being barefoot including:

Courtesy YoTuT / Flickr
Courtesy YoTuT / Flickr
  • Strengthening the muscles in your foot, especially in the arch
  • Improving balance, agility and proprioception
  • Stabilizing the feet, calves and thighs
  • Aligning the feet, ankles, knees and hips
  • Providing spring-like absorption of impact forces

Barefoot Running has been the recent buzz in the fitness world and now even in the press:

Seattle Times

Science Daily.com

Running shoes have arch support, cramped toe compartments, and high heel cushioning which do not allow the foot to perform at its optimal level.  Some people need arch assistance, but the only way to heal weakness in your body is to strengthen and stretch.  Keeping your toes on lock down hinders them from spreading out and providing your body with balance and agility.  Cushioning sets the foot in a position to strike the ground heel first. Heel striking creates large impact forces and uses more energy making your stride less efficient.

Forefoot Striking
Forefoot Striking

Heel striking versus forefoot striking from the Evolutionary Biologists at Harvard – Barefoot Running

Having read that, do not leave your shoes at home tomorrow and barefoot run a 5k for your first sole-less experience.  Again your foot is a part of your amazing body, and if you over train any muscle there will be uncomfortable consequences.

Transition to Barefoot Training:

  • Start Slow! Strengthen your feet by walking barefoot around your home, in your yard or at a park.  No more than a quarter-mile a day is recommended for your first week.
  • Increase your barefoot time in low impact classes like yoga, and walking on a track or paved path.
  • If you experience pain take a rest from your training. Be patient, if your feet have had support from shoes for a lifetime they will need a gradual transition.
  • Stretch and massage your arches, calves and Achilles tendon often.

Before your feet have built up the strength and calluses to prosper while barefoot running outdoors, try Vibram 5 Fingers!
I wear mine while jogging, hiking, climbing, boating, jump roping, exercising at the monkey bar gym,  and just to stroll around the city turning heads toward my foot gloves!

Vibram 5 Fingers
Vibram 5 Fingers — Gloves for your feet!
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