Did you know running can boost your immune system, prevent cancer, relieve stress, and eliminate depression? Not only that but did you know that there are different styles of running? I, myself, am a minimalist runner. I get asked all the time what that is and why I would want to run that way and I’m always happy to dump a load of information on your lap about it. I’m passionate about it and love nothing more than to share my opinions on the matter. So what are the basics you might ask?
What is Minimalist Running?
Minimalist running, also known as natural or barefoot running, simply means running with thinly soled shoes or no shoes at all. Barefoot running has been around since the age of cavemen but has become more “in style” since 2009.
Why Should I Start Barefoot Running?
Did you know 30-40% of runners are injured every year? Barefoot running makes you strike the ground more naturally which in turn improves your efficiency, lowers your time, and reduces your risk for injury if you are a mid to forefoot striker. For heel strike runners, however, barefoot running can put stress on the leg muscles and tendons if not executed correctly and slowly.
What’s the Process to Transition?
- start with bare feet activities such as walking on cement, rocks, or anywhere you would normally run
- always stretch your leg muscles before and after each activity
- gradually up your walk to a jog then to a run for only 30 minutes at a time in short distances; be sure to only add 10% more distance each time.
- exercise your ankles, feet, and calves since you will be integrating muscles you’ve never used as extensively for running before
- always use good form by looking ahead not down and by bending your knees a little place your weight off your heels
- take small strides and focus on landing on the outside middle or the balls of your feet
- always take your time to avoid injury and always speak to a physician before starting your transition
Barefoot running isn’t for everyone but if you’re interested in learning or transitioning over, you could potentially break away from the statistics and become a more injury and shoe free runner.