01.07.2019

WHAT IS MINIMALIST RUNNING – AND SHOULD YOU TRY IT?

Minimalist running is reconnecting to your body, it’s capabilities and the natural world around you. And the key to achieving this lies in your feet.

To be a minimalist runner is to shed all the extra padding, support and excess ‘stuff’ on your feet. To be precise: your running shoes!

But don’t kick off your shoes and head out there barefoot just yet.

Why Is Minimalist Running a Thing?

Because traditional running shoes are ruining our feet. It’s becoming clearer that the solution to a lot of common problems you’ll encounter as a runner are down, at least in part, to how running shoes often force your feet into unnatural and counterproductive positions. Let’s look at the heel for example. Look at the traditional raised heel, then your foot. Notice anything? Our feet don’t have elevated heels, so how can you run intuitively with something that has no precedent in the foot itself?

Minimalist, Barefoot – What’s the Difference?

Straightforwardly, a minimalist shoe may still have cushioning, while a truly barefoot shoe has none at all – to duplicate the shape of the foot as authentically as possible. The truly barefoot shoe has zero ‘drop’ between heel and toe, and rests on the ground in exactly the same way a bare foot does – they’re flexible and often fit like a glove.

 

What Are the Benefits of Barefoot and Minimalist Running?

Aside from just feeling more of the ground beneath your feet – and given how much good stuff nature has to share, that’s nearly invaluable on its own – minimalist and barefoot running gives your feet and your mind greater access to valuable sensory information about terrain and foot placement that padded shoes block out completely. And if you want to be truly light on your feet, you need to go barefoot – there’s less shoe to drag around, and less strain on your legs!

How Do I Start Running Barefoot?

Don’t kick off your shoes and strike out barefoot just yet.

Always remember that minimalist running is a process – often a slow and involved one.

The best way to start is to start at the beginning.

If you’ve been wearing shoes most of your life, you’ve probably been wearing traditional shoes; narrow, with a tapered toe box, a heel of some kind and a hard sole. If this sounds familiar your feet are definitely not ready to run barefoot just yet.

So learn to walk (again) before you run.

 

Minimalism comes in different guises, and you may find that just walking around your home, garden or in your local park in minimalist shoes or barefoot is enough. Keep at it. Just being able to wiggle your toes and feel the earth beneath your feet is a great way to start reconnecting to your body and the natural world.

It might even hurt your feet a little to move to minimalist shoes and spend more time barefoot. This is because feet that have spent most of their time encased in thin, narrow, rigid shoes haven’t been given the space to grow strong, wide and flexible. Your feet are packed with vital muscles and tendons that simply haven’t been used enough.

Walking barefoot, as well as in minimalist shoes, gives your feet the perfect opportunity to start building up those tiny muscles, while the soles of your feet start reacting to all the awesome sensory input the ground is now providing.

This is minimalist moving: conscious, connected, happy.

If you’re already a keen runner, maybe it’s time to take this a step further. Minimalist running might be for you…. But first, ask yourself: why?

Are you recovering from an injury? Maybe you think minimalist running will help you run faster, get a better personal best in your next 10km? Or do you simply want to run longer, better and happier?

If you are nodding your head to either of the first questions - hold up!

If you’re recovering from injury that you suspect may have been sustained because your gait is wrong, or your shoes are too padded – you might well be right, but you need to get proper help. Find a minimalist running trainer near you and invest in your running future. Get an expert to guide you back to recovery. It’ll be worth it.

And if you’re after a faster PB – maybe minimalist running really isn’t for you. You’re not going to run faster for a long time, and this kind of running just isn’t about gaining that competitive edge.

But if the idea of re-plugging into nature as you run, as well as potentially running longer, better and happier grabs you – read on!

The key is, again, to start slowly.

But if the idea of re-plugging into nature as you run, as well as potentially running longer, better and happier grabs you – read on!

The key is, again, to start slowly.

Minimalism comes in different guises, and you may find that just walking around your home, garden or in your local park in minimalist shoes or barefoot is enough. Keep at it. Just being able to wiggle your toes and feel the earth beneath your feet is a great way to start reconnecting to your body and the natural world.

It might even hurt your feet a little to move to minimalist shoes and spend more time barefoot. This is because feet that have spent most of their time encased in thin, narrow, rigid shoes haven’t been given the space to grow strong, wide and flexible. Your feet are packed with vital muscles and tendons that simply haven’t been used enough.

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