By MH Staff - Posted on 26th February 2014
Running barefoot or in minimalist shoes is still gaining converts – but you should tread cautiously. “Since most of us wear shoes all the time, the muscles in our feet are essentially dormant,” says Carey Rothschild, a physical therapist and instructor at the University of Central Florida, who wrote a paper about barefoot running. You need to gradually make the switch to unshod exercise. Ease the transition with these basic moves.
1.] Walk barefoot indoors and out. 2.] Run barefoot indoors and on grass. BENEFIT: “This type of activity helps the sensory receptors in your feet gradually adapt to the increased stimulation of being barefoot,” says Rothschild.
1.] Single-leg hops. 2.] Squat jumps. 3.] Depth jumps. BENEFIT: If you strengthen your leg muscles, you’ll be more equipped to handle the impact of landing, reducing your risk of injury.
1.] Land on your forefoot, not your heel. 2.] Pick up your pace. 3.] Shorten your stride. BENEFIT: The “quicker, shorter skipping” of minimalist running will feel more natural as you learn to focus on form, Rothschild says.
1.] Towel curls. 2.] Pick up marbles with your toes. 3.] Bring the ball of your foot toward your heel without flexing your toes. BENEFIT: Stronger feet help maintain your arch height and prevent excessive pronation
1.] Calf stretches on the edge of a step. BENEFIT: You’ll loosen up your lower body – especially your ankles. “The barefoot running technique requires increased calf muscle activity and range of motion in your ankle,” says Rothschild.
1.] Stand on a wobble board or Bosu ball. BENEFIT: Balance exercises improve your neuromuscular control. This helps prevent injury when you aren’t wearing cushioned shoes to absorb the shock of impact.