Barefoot Running by Todd Parker, M.A., M.S.
Running barefoot may lead to benefits such as strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the feet. However, one should never start right off with hard surfaces such as sidewalks, roads, or even harder less forgiving treadmills. If you would like to try barefoot running to see if your musculoskeletal system will support it, you must take a slow, patient, and methodical approach. First, start off by walking around the home for increasing periods of time barefoot. As with every progressive stage that follows, you must assess bodily feedback, and be honest with pain no matter how subtle. Some initial Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is normal, and is a common soreness experienced the following day – for up to 5 or 6 days. One will usually experience DOMS whenever the musculature and fibrous tissues experience a workload or range of motion that you hadn’t previously done or performed for some time. That being said, the soreness should subside as days pass. After a week or so of pain-free barefoot walking around the house, then progress to sand and natural grass, ultimately working towards the treadmill and even the road if desired. Just as with my recommendation to ease into firmer surfaces, I’d recommend the same for the volume or period of time at this type of training (i.e. start with 5 minutes and work towards a half hour). For most individuals, I would not recommend running barefoot beyond grass or the treadmill. Certainly barefoot running can lead to some strengthening and “resiliency” of the tendons and muscles of the foot, but I’d highly recommend you start slowly and cautiously so as not to cause long-term damage to your feet.
Coach Todd Parker, M.A., M.S.
Todd Parker is a former Professional Triathlete and holds
a Masters in Exercise Physiology from San Jose State University.
Todd is an exercise physiologist, certified cycling and endurance
sports coach, and personal trainer. You can reach Todd at:
TP2Coaching@gmail.com or 215.80.Coach (215.802.6224).
Also reach Todd at http://www.toddparkertrainingprograms.com/