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How to Run Barefoot

Learn how to run barefoot from competitive runners Doug Oldiges and Stephanie Coburn in this Howcast video.


So the topic of barefoot running has become very popular recently. You might have seen people walking around with those toe shoes, Vibrams. Fila has also come out with Skeletoes. But what is happening with these sneakers is that they're are taking away the cushion. They're taking away the meat of the shoe.

What happens with your average training shoe is that you have all of this cushion in the heel of the shoe, so people tend to heel strike when they are running. So it kind of throws off the natural way of how you would be landing if you were running barefoot. Now, with these barefoot shoes, there's only about an eighth of an inch of EVA foam in the sneaker, so there's not a lot of cushion in your heal. It doesn't force you to run differently, it just makes it very uncomfortable for you to land on your heal.

So what happens is people will naturally start to land on the mid foot, ball of their foot. Some people argue that this is the natural way of how you should be running. Some people will come into our store and say, "I want to change the way I'm running. I want to change my form. Tell me how to do that. And I feel Vibrams will help me do that". And this is true, to a degree.

So when people start out, we encourage them to only use them as a tool and we say tool because we don't want them to use the Vibrams to completely replace their sneaker. We encourage people to use them for about five minutes to ten minutes at a time to help their body adjust. What happens if you use Vibrams too much, too soon, it can put too much pressure on the ball of your foot, too much pressure on your metatarsals and it can actually cause stress fractures. So just be careful if you want to go that route.

If you tend to overpronate, and by overpronation I mean if you have flexible arches or flat feet if you roll inwards, Vibrams are not a good option because it doesn't give you any stability to correct that overpronation.

Try to visit your local running store and see if these Vibrams would be a good fit for you. Work into it gradually. If you want to adjust your running form, have some patience with it and take some time. If it's a little too much for you to start, try to adjust into it slowly by running on the grass, maybe at your local track or maybe on the beach. Doing that will help you adapt a little bit as you start to change your running form.

I think the idea of barefoot running and the Vibram FiveFingers is fascinating. Just be careful with what you do so that you don't overdo it so it doesn't sideline your training program.

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