Did you know that over 50 million Americans say they run on a regular basis? The numbers have only increased since 2020. That’s great news for fitness and lifestyle improvement… But what about all these people who are running around barefoot?
Sounds like a hip new trend, right? Barefoot running can help with strengthening the muscles of your foot, as well as giving you an increased ground feel. On the other hand, scientific studies show that running barefoot can lead to instability.
That doesn’t mean barefoot jogging is a bad thing. But it’s best to read up on some barefoot jogging tips before you Fred Flintstone your way out on the track!
1. Start slow.
Always start slow before trying any new exercise regimen, whether running barefoot or any other exercise. It’s best to acclimate your foot to the terrain over time with barefoot walking at a slow to moderate pace before eventually working up to a speed walk, a jog, and full run.
Be sure to shorten your stride, as most of us tend to walk with a longer stride when we wear shoes.
You must also focus on walking on your forefeet as opposed to your heels. This will encourage you naturally to walk lightly and quietly while putting less strain on your feet while walking.
It’s best to start with walking barefoot before you get used to running barefoot. This will also help you to learn how to keep and maintain a good pace while you retrain your body to being barefoot when you exercise.
2. Start on a hard surface and avoid walking on grass.
When it comes to the specific terrain you should train your feet on, start with the sidewalk and other concrete walking surfaces. This will help keep your feet level and prevent you from stepping on anything sharp or curved that could be hidden in the grass, as well as prevent bug bites and other hazards.
Hard-packed sand on a beach or other kind of walkway would also be a good tip for people who want to train their running feet barefoot.
3. Prepare yourself for sore calves and calloused feet.
When we work out major muscles on bare surfaces, we have to prepare ourselves for the wear and tear it will cause the parts we’re using. When it comes to running or walking barefoot, you should expect some cramping in your calves and hamstrings as well as increased calluses on your feet.
This might be alarming at first but as long as you keep to your new routine you should be able to have strong if hardened feet.
It may also help to apply a foot mask, foot rub, or a good old-fashioned foot bath to soothe your feet at the end of the day and leave them looking and feeling a little bit fresher. As long as you push through the pain you’ll be able to see the benefits in the long run.
4. Be aware of the weather outside before you go running barefoot.
Just like you wouldn’t want to walk a dog if, after coming in from their walk you find their paw pads have turned red from the heat of the asphalt, you should be mindful of the temperature outside before you go walking or running barefoot.
You wouldn’t want to make your feet so hot that they get discolored. This can also make infection more likely especially if you have any exposed cuts or boils on your feet.
You should also never go out walking or running without shoes if it’s too cold outside. This will decrease sensation in your feet and may lead to overexposure on your feet and toes, which can become a medical emergency if frostbite occurs.
5. Invest in a good pair of barefoot running shoes.
In your journey to run with a natural style, you may want to invest in some good running shoes that will help you during your walk. These are shoes that are specially designed to make it feel like you’re not wearing shoes at all. Check out Runners Athletics' list of barefoot running shoes.
We recently published a story on running gear for newbies that might help with the basics of running. Reread for some pointers on what to take with you on and off your feet!
There are many benefits to walking and running barefoot. But it’s best to take precautions, so as not to injure your feet. Are you wondering if the barefoot running trend would work for you? Give it a try and add it to your exercise routine today!