One the most frequent Physiotherapy related questions we’re asked is about Bare Foot Running. Is it fad or does it make good biomechanical sense? I’m sure that each physiotherapist has their own view but here’s our musings.
The idea behind barefoot running is to allow the foot to work in a more natural manner as nature intended. This sounds like a reasonable idea. Use the body exactly as nature intended. But then should we sit down? We’re designed to move and run, so should we sit down at all?
We’ve seen lots of people turn up at our clinics with new injuries shortly after switching to bare foot running – so if this is what we were meant to do why does it give us so many problems? The answer maybe be quite simple. How many of us in the Western World have been running around in bare foot their whole life? Not many one would think.
How many Kenyans have been running around the plains without shoes on for their whole life? A few more we can assume. So maybe it’s just a simple case adaptation? The human body is incredibly versatile and is capable of amazing things. But it needs time to get used to doing something new.
Just think of how sore you are after doing a new sport for the first time. So how should you run in your barefoot shoes? The trick is to start slowly. Build things up gradually – almost as if you were starting running all over again. You can of course intersperse the runs with running in good old fashioned Western style trainers to keep the mileage up.
Normal muscle adaptation takes 6 weeks – but we wouldn’t suggest running marathons in bare foot shoes at that point. Remember this is a fundamental change you are making to the way you run, and have done all your life, it will take time. Hopefully these tips have been useful or at least interesting debate.
If followed you’ll be running like you were on the Serengeti in no time! Whether Bare Foot Running is just a fad or here to stay, only time will tell.