Before going into barefoot running tips, I think we should answer the most important question: why run barefoot?
There are a gazillion reasons why you should go barefoot. But to summarize, the most obvious benefit is being able to run with less impact on your body.
What I love about this type of running is the decreased risk of injury. This is because there’s no excess padding under my foot when it hits the ground. The best thing about going barefoot or using barefoot shoes is that you have more control over how much pressure is put on each toe. This can help prevent things like Plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. But people with these two conditions should make sure not to run on hard surfaces & keep their speed low while running barefoot.
On the other side of things, there are some downsides to going barefoot such as not being able to run on certain surfaces due to sharp objects. You also need time and patience for your feet’ proprioception to develop so that you can go without any shoes at all!
Practically Barefoot Running Tips for Beginners
Take it slow
If you are used to running in shoes, changing to running barefoot will require some time to adjust. You will use muscles that you have not used when running in shoes, and therefore your feet may be sore if you try to run too much. I started quite fast (ran a marathon within 3 months of starting to run barefoot), and therefore I had some sore feet at times. I would recommend icing your feet a lot, in the beginning, to help make the transition more smooth. Do not get worried if your feet are sore, it is because you are using muscles that you have neglected in the past. This is probably the most difficult part of transitioning to barefoot running.
Run-on a variety of surfaces
There are two adjustments that you need to make when you start running barefoot. The first is to strengthen the muscles in your feet. To do this it helps to run on soft surfaces such as sand and grass. The second adjustment is your running form. Running in shoes makes it comfortable to run with bad form. Running barefoot will naturally help you to correct your form and avoid injury. Running on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt will help you perfect your running form. It is not possible to run on these surfaces with the form you run in shoes.
The first time I ran barefoot on concrete, my feet were slapping the ground on every step. I quickly could tell that this was not the correct form, adjusted my form correctly. My suggestion is to try and run somewhere quiet and listen to your feet hitting the ground. Try to make as little noise as possible. The best surfaces to hear your feet are smooth sidewalks. Ideally, your feet should not be able to hear your feet when they touch the ground. This will be difficult in the beginning but is a good goal to have.