Why Barefoot?

My feet after five miles barefoot running
My feet after five miles barefoot running

Switching to minimalist footwear or running barefoot in November 2012 was amazing and I haven’t looked back. I wonder if I will wear a heeled shoe of any sort ever again.

Why barefoot:

  • It feels good.
  • It feels *right*.
  • My arches were non-existent. The doctor said orthotics, but they do not fix your arches. The internet suggested barefoot running uphill. I owned a pair of Vibram FiveFingers so thought I’d give it a go and I was shocked by the absence of pain in my shins and my knees particularly. I could run happy.
  • Barefoot is good for my mind; connecting with the earth.
  • Mid-life crisis, or at least some mild concern, has led me to invest time in my skeleton so it better supports me until mortal departure.
  • I grew up climbing trees, swinging from ropes, building hay-bale dens, falling in streams, running around the place – outside, often barefoot.
  • Barefoot running is addictive. The stimulation it brings through the soles of your feet is compelling.

About half my runs are bare-naked-footed. Often, the term barefoot running is used to include running in minimalist footwear. I run on all types of surfaces including rough paths with loose stones; “ouch!” My feet can get sore from abrasions after long runs and need to recover. I have bled only once: when walking to a shop, I trotted to avoid some traffic and a piece of debris (glass maybe) outside a pub broke my skin but I ran on it later that day. The odd splinter has caused pain but a pedicure can sort this out as well as remove toughened dead skin. I wear no shoes whenever practical because even minimalist 3mm soles can conceal the impact of heel striking whilst walking. I’m not bothered if I have to wear shoes somewhere in particular; I don’t mind the social pressure to conform.  I’ve learned a bit about feet, for example, ‘the human foot and ankle is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred musclestendons, and ligaments.’ Wikipedia – your feet contain one quarter of the 206 bones in your body. Interestingly your hands also account for a quarter. Thinking about your feet in a similar way to how you think about your hands is part of going barefoot, differing according to function obviously.

I make the rules. If I want to wear shoes for whatever reason, I will. Often, if I start out running wearing shoes, I’ll take them off half way to free my feet, which never fails to be a positive experience.
Should you be interested in trying barefoot running, you should transition slowly from the footwear your feet have been caged in become accustomed to over the years. A simple YouTube search for “barefoot running transition” will provide a few advice videos to get you started. If you are more interested in the science behind it, this link from Harvard might be useful: http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/.
Why Barefoot?

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