To barefoot or not to barefoot that is the question….

OK so whats all the kerffufle about?

Scientific studies show little change in shock absorption or motion-control in shod versus unclad feet. This apparent difference seems hard to believe – all that foam padding and those posts, bridges, and dual-density midsoles have to be doing something, right? Well yes they are doing something; due to the shoe sole’s lack in flexibility compared to a bare foot along with the thickness of the rubber the shod foot ends up deceiving the body by blinding it to sensory input.

When you run barefoot, your body precisely engages your brain, your vision, the soles of your feet, and all the bones, tendons, muscles, and supporting structures of your legs and feet. They jump to red alert, and give you a perfect spectra of protection from the varied forces and pressures of running. Compared with running in socks, shoes, inserts, midsoles and outsoles, your body’s proprioceptive system loses a lot of input. This has been called ‘the perceptual illusion’ of running shoes. With shoes, your body switches off to a degree, and your reaction time decreases.

What we notice in studies is that the shod foot will strike the ground with its heel and the barefoot with a mid or forefoot strike. The shock waves are different in each case, and evolution of the human skeleton wins over trainer technology to such a degree that the usual injuries we see in runner such as shin splints, plantar fascitis and “runners knee” are significantly reduced in barefoot runners and can even be reversed by taking off shoes and continuing to run in mild cases!

And
what does transitioning mean?

The soles of our feet been protected by footwear for our lifetime in most cases. You need to spend time re training and engaging foot and leg muscles to work and grow in order that we can land on our forefoot knowing the stress load will be radiated correctly through your musculo skeletal system.  In addition to strengthening exercises we will educate the neuro muscular system to fire in a slightly different pattern. We usually do this by firstly working on gait, then cadence, then body position and leg re-coil.

We will introduce you to some drills in order to achieve this and after a short time this new running style will start to feel very natural.This transitioning process from shod running to barefoot can take a few weeks or months but it is imperative before we start running barefoot, particularly if you have been injured before through transitioning too fast or are using barefoot techniques to overcome injuries. Once transitioned without discomfort we can then start increasing the mileage you cover as you would usually do in a running program. We pay particular attention to incorporating an ongoing strengthening program.