Barefoot running and ‘minimalist’ shoes have many benefits if approached correctly and patiently. In the past, I suffered from many chronic running injuries. I have now been injury free for over 8 years even as an ultramarathon runner because of running with an efficient technique and occasionally running barefoot!
My fastest 10K I ever ran was barefoot. Truly barefoot.
How is this? It encouraged me to run light and took my focus off the pain and instead on running with grace and fluidity. I don’t recommend this for everyone. I have been barefoot running and ChiRunning for over 7 years and with gradual progress. My longest run truly barefoot was in the desert southwest and was over 40 miles. I felt incredibly connected to Earth and more grounded than ever before while running. There was a deep sense of joy and peace that is difficult to describe. Over 3 hours of the run was also completely naked but I don’t recommend that without gradual progress either!
Barefoot running encourages a lighter, more efficient running technique. However, if you approach running barefoot or in minimalist shoes with improper technique, you may set yourself up for injury and frustration. This is why I recommend gradual progress and the ChiRunning technique. Most runners have been running in ‘traditional’ running shoes for 10 or more years. You cannot jump into barefoot running and expect there not to be consequences and changes. For changes are what we are seeking. But, if done too quickly, change can equate to injury. Because we are used to walking, running, and living in shoes with a heel lift, wearing a minimalist shoe will require your Achilles heels and calves to ‘lengthen’ and stretch. If done too quickly, this causes injury. We do want to see this change happen, but gradually. The slower the better. I recommend walking barefoot once a week and gradually increasing this to three days a week if possible.
We can run barefoot and still have an inefficient and high impact running technique.
Barefoot running does not completely fix your running technique. This is why I recommend and teach the ChiRunning technique. It is a way of running proven to reduce impact and injuries. I tell people “ChiRunning allows you to run as if barefoot while wearing whatever shoe you choose”. Once you have a more efficient technique, you can transition into minimalist shoes with a reduced chance of becoming injured.
The benefits of running barefoot are many. Running barefoot does encourage a lighter, more graceful running form that may reduce injuries and impact. It also strengthens postural muscles that have become weak because of shoes and our ‘modern’ society. Also, running truly barefoot allows us to have a greater connection to Earth. It makes us more grounded and brings greater peace and tranquility by slowing us down on a physical as well as spiritual level. I attribute my accomplished running career to Chi Running, running barefoot, and healthy life choices.
When I run barefoot I feel more alive and my senses are completely awakened which brings me absolute peace and happiness.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions about how to transition safely to a simpler, easier, more joyful way of running.
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