Barefoot running technique / being gentle on the skin

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Dan Cook, May 1, 2017.

  1. Dan Cook

    Dan Cook
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    Feb 18, 2017
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    I ran 4 miles barefoot on Friday no problem.

    On Sunday I ran slightly further along the same route but got 2 cuts in the usual places (top of the balls of the feet, towards the toes, in the middle), the reason being, I am sure, is that I went for a barefoot walk to the gym on Saturday (1.5 miles) which meant the skin didn't get enough rest.

    You experienced folk explained to me that it's less hardening of the skin and more muscle/tendon/bone strengthening which enables you to run further without cutting your skin.

    My questions are:

    1) How can you improve technique over rough ground? Ken Bob talks about 'lifting your feet' rather than pushing them down. I get what he's aiming for but this sounds incredibly complicated.

    2) Is this something my body will naturally adapt to over time? Will the weakness / bad technique automatically improve over time, as long as I stick to fairly rough / stony ground.

    All over the above walking and running has been over fairly rough pavement with small stones all along. There's very little smooth pavement or roads near me.

    Thanks again for all your comments and insight.
  2. Kyrrinstoch

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    1. Minnesota

    May 20, 2014
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    Hey Dan - all valid questions.

    For #1 here's what I did - I ran "in reverse order". I set a metronome app for the 180bpm, then lifted my foot straight up on the click instead of landing on the click. While this seems counter-intuitive (it is and it takes some work), the end result is that you focus on picking up your feet instead of pushing with them or thinking about your landings so much. I did this initially while running in place, then started on an outdoor run with it - the end results for me was that I was landing *much* lighter, rough ground was noticeably easier to run on, AND I stopped pushing off with my steps.

    For #2, yes - it takes time for your body to adapt. It could simply be that you're trying to cover a distance more frequently than your body/feet are quite ready for. You could alternate the number of days you run, or shorten the distance but still run every day and gradually add more and more to your distance.
    Dan Cook likes this.
  3. Makamaespm

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    May 19, 2016
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    1. It really does just take time and practice. I used to drag my feet, that stopped quick and in a hurry once barefoot. search in the forums or google 100 Up running exercise. I use it as warm up to really ingrain the "lifting" into my muscle memory. also after 2 decent sized blisters the skin naturally hardened and it became less painful.

    2. again, sorry to make you work a bit, but search the forums for "transition" there are a few extensive discussions about transitioning plans. It took me 2 months before I was running barefoot a straight 20min. I would go on my normal shod runs and for cool down the last 10 minutes would be barefoot (some recommend barefoot during the warmup). I began only running 1 min and walking 9 and then the next day do 2 min/walk 8. if I hurt at all, I would repeat until pain free and add a minute to the run portion.

    I'm no expert, still a newbie myself, but this is just what worked for me. best of luck.
  4. Christian Lemburg

    Christian Lemburg
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    1. Germany &...

    Jan 18, 2014
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    Hi Dan,

    here are some more tips on how to transition:

    - Lots of barefoot walking: helps you to adjust to more difficult terrain and environmental conditions (wet, cold, heat), useful to explore possible routes, get your feet used to the ground, build up strength and "tough" feet
    - Run slow until it works for you: slow running with fast cadence, baby steps, lifting, etc.; speed will return later when you no longer fear the ground and can apply more force to it without hurting yourself
    - Treat the transition as a learning process: barefoot running is a skill and needs to be learned, don't "tough it out", find out what is not working for you, and change your running accordingly; your feet are your best coaches; that said, your feet will adapt with time and provide more protection compared to when you started, it just needs some time (months)
    - Run without fear: choose routes that you can run without fear of every step; if every step hurts, you will not be able to learn, and just punish yourself, loosing the fun; ability to run over difficult terrain comes with experience and time (months to years)
    - Care for your feet: every day, clean and inspect your feet; some use some kind of oils or fats, some don't, it is up to you; treat any injuries promptly, avoid excessive overuse

    For me personally, the switch to "barefoot where possible" in daily life was the big factor to make the conversion in running. I guess running is often a bit stressful in the beginning, whereas walking gives you more time to adapt while still providing enough stimulus for growth and adaptation. So, walk if you can't run!



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