It’s been a while since we talked about barefoot running, a change in the trend of the broker that consists of running barefoot or with minimalist footwear, with hardly any cushioning. Although at first the runners were very reluctant to this change, little by little you are even seeing how it has many benefits at the technical level and injury prevention.
Like everything in sports, this change must be done progressively. If we go from running with cushioning shoes to doing it barefoot overnight, we will surely get injured or see no benefit. The barefoot is a return to our origins, to run with hardly any cushioning and with a more forward or metatarsal support, without stepping on the heel.
Barefoot running: running without cushioning, with greater cadence and leaning forward
The problem of taking so much time using sneakers with cushioning is that their materials are part of the functions that correspond to muscle and joint. When we hit the heel, that force is much greater than if we did it with the midfoot or the metatarsal, as barefoot runners do, with the involvement at the level of injuries that entails.
When we run with little cushioning the sensations will be better, but also the distribution of force on impact will not be so abrupt. Another technical aspect is that you are going to step under the center of gravity and not ahead, as do the runners that attack heel, something that goes against the advance.
Consequences of running with cushioning shoes
If you look at your running shoes, it is most likely that the part of the heel is thicker than that of the metatarsal or toe. This has led to runners make a stride support in the heel, making this phase more lasting and with less « rebound » or reaction.
A few weeks ago we talked about the ideal stride frequency, which is around 180 steps per minute. Well, it has been proven that with cushioning shoes most runners have a frequency of 140-160 steps per minute, that is, less than those considered optimal, due to this heavier stride.
The anatomy of the human body is designed to support the weight in the part of the metatarsus, not in the heel. So, Biomechanics tells us that if we support heel we will be subtracting stride, while if we support from midfoot or with the metatarsal, we will be more technically effective for the race. So is it bad to run with cushioning shoes? It is not that it is bad, but either we would have to re-educate our stride or we would have to switch to footwear with less cushioning to be more optimal.
My experience with barefoot running
Although I have not completely run barefoot, yes, after reading a lot about this topic I have done some adaptations to my way of running. Such adaptations have been: to run at 180 steps per minute, to stop using anti-tanning systems, to wear sneakers with a thinner sole and midsole without cushioning systems and to modify the running position.
I didn’t happen to this in a day. When changing shoes and having less cushioning you have to make a period of adaptation, running less volume and at low intensity, to gradually increase every day and get to run the distances we consider normal.
I have personally noticed many benefits, especially as now the race is more efficient And so the heart rate monitor tells me: running at the same speed with less pulsations and better sensations. What helped me the most is to make me aware of not stepping on my heel, something that made me slower in the race with my great stride.
I encourage you to run a few meters barefoot on the grass and notice sensations, perhaps you think that so many years wearing sports shoes, which has changed our running technique, has been a mistake and it was best to continue with our natural way of running.
This article was originally published by Juan Lara in September 2012 and has been revised for republication.
Image | Unsplash, iStock
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