Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Going Barefoot

Should you go barefoot, or should you not? Yes, absolutely, but it depends. We seem to be all or nothing when it comes to this conversation. I'm an all or nothing kinda guy, but there is plenty of wiggle room here on this topic. 

If your idea of going barefoot means ditching your shoes and running 5 miles for the first time ever, then no, don't do that. That would be like being sedentary for 20 years and then trying to deadlift 350 pounds the first time someone showed you a barbell. It just wouldn't be smart. However, if your idea of going barefoot means taking your shoes off for a few times a day and getting used to what if feels like to be shoeless, then yes, test those waters. We don't have to be all or nothing here. We can use GOOD judgement.

Yes, being barefoot can be good for you. At one time in your life, it was most likely very good for you. However, if you have been wearing thick, stiff shoes for 40 years and you are a little overweight, you may not want to take up barefoot running right from the start. You may just want to walk around your house on carpet for a few hours a day, maybe even a few minutes depending on the state of your feet. 

Better yet, if you really want an easy way to ease into being barefoot, take off your shoes and crawl around. Even crawling on your hands and knees can stimulate the nerves in your feet and feed your brain with rich, sensory information. This is so good for you. Spend some time playing around on the floor with bare feet. If you are bold, try spider-man crawling barefoot. You are giving your feet some weight, but not ALL your weight. This is another gentle way to strengthen your feet without destroying them. 

If you really want to try running barefoot, go outside and find some nice grass to start walking around in first. Get used to doing that before you take off on your first 5K! Walking in the grass can be a great thing. Get used to how it feels for the blades of grass to run through your toes. Again, this is rich nutrition for your brain as well as it is for your feet. This is a gentle way to ease into being barefoot. That is the point, ease yourself in, don't dive into the shallow end head first. This is not good! 

And if you do work up to running barefoot and you've gotten yourself some "barefoot" shoes, remember this: man made asphalt and concrete. They are not natural things that we should be running on. Run on the grass or the ground. If you have to run on concrete, I guess you have to, but I do think it is much better to run on the ground. 

I think going barefoot is wonderful and yields a whole host of health benefits like
strong, healthy feet (that alone is a blessing), reflexive strength and stability, better proprioception, and better movement though out the entire body. You can train barefoot, and I believe you probably should. Just use good judgement. You don't have to be all or nothing. Don't avoid it all together and don't burn all your shoes in a blaze of glory. Ease into it. Enjoy the process and learn from it. 

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