Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why I Barefoot Run

A lot of people find my decision to run barefoot crazy. They always say, "But Tyson, won't that hurt?" "Aren't you scared you will step on things?" "What if your feet get blisters?" "Can't you get diseases from running barefoot?" "Why don't you just wear shoes? They are much more comfortable" "But now you are going to get injured so much easier!" And the list goes on and on. Well I started reading a book last night called The Barefoot Running Book  by Jason Robillard, it has some really good research that explain exactly why I have decided to run barefoot. I will share some of the main ideas in short bullet points below.

  • Why is it that since the great running boom of the seventies that there has been NO decrease in the amount of injuries in spite of yearly 'improvements' in running-shoe technology? (some authors say there has been an increase in injury)
  • The heel of a runner upon striking the ground generates a force that can equal 2.5 times body weight at the foot and as much as 7 times body weight at the hit. Repeat this 1000 times per mile and it's easy to appreciate the stress our bones are under if we continue to heel strike because of our thick-soled shoes.
  • The impact from running on your body as your foot hits the ground is actually (wait for it) HIGHER the softer your shoes get. If you are running with a shoe that has tons of cushion, you actually end up hitting the ground even harder and the impact is much more negative on your bones and muscles than if you are running barefoot. Think about it, you don't just carelessly run around when you are barefoot, you are careful about where you place your foot and how hard it hits the ground, so you actually end up being much lighter on your feet and reduce your risk of injury infinitely while running barefoot.

This is what I tell those that doubt me and think that I am crazy. There is so much research pointing to the benefits of running barefoot, but there is NO (yes none, nada, zilch) peer reviewed research that talks about the benefits of wearing running shoes and how it helps you over all. Why do you think almost every running shoe company in the world now is starting to design and sell minimalist shoes?

Now I know many of you may be thinking that you would like to start, but are not sure WHERE to start, or HOW to transition. Here are a couple things that you can do, starting today, to begin your very own transition to running barefoot:

  1. When you get home from work, take your shoes off! Walk around the house barefoot, do yard work barefoot, walk to the bus station to get the kids barefoot. Do as many activities as you can barefoot to start to condition your feet so they begin to work and build the muscles they have lost by being covered for all these years.
  2. Start walking short distances every day barefoot. Take a half-mile walk around the neighborhood, any little bit will help your feet to get used to the ground again, notice how good it feels. 
  3. Train yourself to land on the padded area on your foot instead of your heel, when you learn to do this, correct form will start to happen by itself. 
Note: Listen to your body. 
Your feet and legs will tell you 
when you are doing something
 right or wrong. They will tell you 
when you should slow down or 
when you are ready to add more
 distance and speed to your training.

Try those three things out this week! 
Check back again soon for more tips
on what you can do next, and please 
comment and let me know how it is 
going for you so far!

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