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Friday, July 6, 2012

MINIMALIST/BAREFOOT RUNNING IS HARD WORK!

I've been running exclusively wearing minimalist shoes for a couple of years now.  Doing so, I find myself a lot more in tune with what my feet, legs, whole body are experiencing during a run.  I prefer minimalist to barefoot, just because I prefer to experience the sensations without ALL of the pain involved.  I've been going barefoot whenever possible since I was a kid (that's a long time ago), so my feet are plenty tough.  I really like being on a run in my Invisible Shoe huaraches and stepping hard on a sharp piece of gravel.  That's right.  I like that.  First, it is a great reminder to lighten up on your foot strike.  Second, I feel it, then go happily on my way thinking, "Boy, that WOULD HAVE hurt!"  I run in the 6mm Contact I/Ss.  For me, they give plenty of ground feel, while providing an extra modicum of protection.  Your feet aren't restricted in any way, just given enough of a layer to avoid injuries.     

     When running in such footwear, however, your feet are WORKING!  When you lace up a pair of "traditional" running shoes, you are encasing your foot in rubber, synthetic, etc.  When so encased, it doesn't have to move much, just flex enough to bend when you strike on your heel and move foreword to push off with your toes.  The foot doesn't really seem to do any actual work, rather it just catches the impact of the heel strike.  Strap on a pair of huaraches, such as those by InvisibleShoe.com, and your feet are going to do a lot of the work, and provide the "spring" to minimize impact as you mid or forefoot strike and proceed to the next step.  The fact that the foot is doing a lot of the work, seems to be the reason many people come up with injuries when transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running.  The needed strengthening takes time.  The muscles, bones, tendons, etc. that make up that wondrous appendage need time to gradually adapt to the new demands.  Go too far, too fast, and you'll have stress fractures, tendinitis, severe muscle pain, etc.   Work into it ---S---L---O---W--L--Y---.  After a few months, it really does become a lot more fun than running in shoes.  It's the natural way to run.

      I watch my 7 year old tearing through the yard, not thinking about "running", just running.  Shoes or no, he's on a mid-foot strike, naturally,  and without training.  That's the way our feet/legs were made, that's the correct way to run, (in my opinion, of course!)

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