With the barefoot running craze sweeping the fitness industry its time we talked about how to treat our feet.
First of all, why run barefoot or in minimalist shoes at all? Talk to 99% of regular runners and you will hear about an endless list of injuries and niggles. Sore knees, ankles, hips, lower backs and calves all plague the runner. Now, the most prominent theory to come out as to why the modern day runner suffers so much is to do with our footwear.
To give you the whistle stop tour, cushioned arches and raised heels, as is the norm with modern day running shoes, have changed our natural running style. They have made our arches lazy (the part of the foot designed to absorb the shock when we run) and produced a running gait that results in our heels striking the ground first. Bad news for our knees and hips that feel the shock of impact the most. Not to mention the fact that a heel striking running gait is much less energy efficient because it doesn’t get the most out of our Achilles heels, the ‘spring’ in our step!
Cue the arrival of minimalist running shoes. Minimalist shoes are designed with the aim of allowing the foot to function as though it was barefoot. There’s no arch support or raised heel. The only thing it gives us is protection on our soles against stones, bumps and lumps. That’s it.
The impact on our feet
Running barefoot will have a direct impact on the state of our feet, from the skin to the fascia and tendons underneath. It’s a tough transition from traditional footwear to minimalist shoes but can be very beneficial once complete. To help make the change here are our four top tips to look after your feet:
- Myo-fascial release – just like we use a foam roller on our legs the fascia on the bottom of our feet responds very well to massage. To do this most effectively use a hard round surface. A golf ball or empty deodorant can are both perfect. Be prepared to feel some discomfort, especially in the early stages but massaging the bottom of our feet like this can have a huge impact on how much shock we absorb as we run and how our feet feel during and after.
- Margaret Dabbs Superior Foot File – this is best used on dry skin.
- This Works Perfect Heels Rescue Balm – deeply nourishing and works wonders on dry feet and cracked heels.
- Magnesium foot soak – not just beneficial for our feet, but for our entire body, magnesium is perfect to help our feet relax and de-tense after a tough barefoot run.