Barefoot... Walking?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by IncredibleBulk, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. IncredibleBulk

    IncredibleBulk Barefooters
    1. Oregon

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    Hey everyone - I searched the forums for a thread on barefoot walking mechanics - but wasn't able to find one. As someone who is just starting out - I'm hoping to do some strengthing of leg muscles, ligaments and tendons before I just jump into running my frame on my tootsies - getting out and walking in the morning to strengthen things up.

    I know that I'll probably get a million different responses to this question as everyone does things a little differently, but I'm curious if I will find a common mechanical thread among those of you that respond. Particularly - those that barefoot more regularly.

    I've noticed that when I walk barefoot, or in my VFF's - that I tend to have a heel first, rotate through the toe mechanic. I can adjust that - just lifting my heel and letting my mid-foot or forefoot land first, which feels and according to my wife LOOKS wierd. :) She says it looks like I'm tip-going around, and she says I look like the Honda ASIMO robot. I recognize that after years and years of wearing shoes - those mechanics are ingrained, and might take some time to de-habit... but...

    When you walk barefoot - how do you place your foot? Do you mimic a barefoot landing while running - midfoot/forefoot without the heel? Bent knees? Or do you go to a heel/toe mechanic when walking?

    I'd love to hear from as many as possible to see if a common thread can be established - particularly among those that are barefooted with regards to lifestyle.
     
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  2. Rémi

    Rémi Barefooters
    1. France

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  3. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

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    I would just walk naturally, whatever feels normal to you. Don't overthink it, or you may make it more difficult than it has to be and give up altogether.
     
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  4. Lorri

    Lorri Banned
    1. United Kingdom

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    I've been barefoot totally for over 12 years and when walking i'm always heel roll through to toes, when running it's balls of feet lower onto heels back to balls then off toes. If that makes sense. If questions please ask.

    I think you'll find your thing naturally though. I just know what works for me.
     
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  5. BroadArrow

    BroadArrow Barefooters
    1. Illinois

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    as usual, everyone does it differently, or so i am told: i don't run into many (?any) other barefooters in my daily life (although, i have heard rumors that there are two or three around town somewhere). the story i have heard is that among the fulltime barefooters set, it is a fairly even split between the happy heel-strikers and the "forefoot rules all" crowds.

    my personal approach when i ditched my shoes was simply to ask myself, "how do i *want* to walk? what will keep me happiest and allow me to be robust to varied conditions?" as in: how would you walk if you were walking across legos/ice-shards/gravel/barbed-wire in a dimly lit slippery situation? thus, i decided to go for a bent-knee, bent-ankle, front/outside of the foot first approach combined with relatively frequent short steps where the foot doesn't get very far out in front. (oh, and i definitely set my whole foot down, even when running up stairs or supersteep hills; it's just that the front makes the initial and final contact. no need to risk blowing out an achilles's tendon at some point in the far future.) that is, what we usually end up with when running. and yes, my wife told me that i looked weird walking, too. part of it is what you already identified as the gawkiness when trying out something new (hitting a volleyball looks easy, too, until you actually try it...). another part is that suddenly you are about 4 inches shorter than you used to be: an inch and a half of shoe disappearing and then all the folding up so that your joints can actually work as a suspension system rather than relying on the shoe padding. nowadays, i still look ridiculous, but a little less so (less folded, smoother foot placement, generally more confident).

    the result if you do that, though, is that you figure out that walking is actually kind of unnatural feeling. too slow or something to match the natural resonances of the legs and connective tissues (at least for me). i often find myself drifting into brisk walking or even slow running. oh, and then you find yourself watching other people and how they walk. yeah, i may look bizarre, but everybody else has (?have) some pretty strange ways of locomoting. when i look at them, they always seem like they are teetering and about to topple over. :) and their knees do some funny double pop where they lock out in the air, bend, lock out again, and then finish the step. i'm sure i did/do the same thing in shoes, but it just doesn't seem healthy. :)
     
  6. Lorri

    Lorri Banned
    1. United Kingdom

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    When you say heel strikers i get confused by the meaning - not trying to be difficult. Personally, when i walk, i do make contact heel first but i certainly don't heel strike or class it as such like i would class a shoddy definitely heel strikes, my heel touches first and then rolls naturally through the ball onto the toes in one flowing motion - i don't perceive a strike at all. As i speed up i naturally go more forward until i'm in full run when my ball touches first and then lower to heel and back through ball to toe off.
     
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  7. Tristan

    Tristan Barefooters
    1. Ohio

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    I wouldn't try to get overly specific advice just for walking, at first I'd just try to walk what feels the most natural. I walked for a couple weeks barefoot before I attempted my first run, and even after I started running I maintained walking on the every other day schedule opposite of my run days. My feet were very sensitive and soft, so the walking was more to toughen the skin and deaden the oversensitive nerves than just to focus on gait. As I ran more and more barefoot I think my walking gait changed slightly, but I'm talking about over a couple years not weeks, and it was more natural and not forced by me. I mostly still heel strike when walking, but just not hard as some people interpret that way. I have learned to walk much lighter on my feet, I just touch down heel first. But through the walk cycle I tend to even the force throughout the foot, not just slam the heel down with a loose forefoot.

    If there was a generalization to be made I'd say that your gait shifting from more of a heel strike through midfoot through forefoot is determined mostly by speed. Walking will be mostly heel to perhaps flat footed, jogging and running midfoot to slightly fore, fast running and sprinting more on the forefoot. That is just a generalization and I am no biomechanics expert so don't take that as expert medical advice. ;)
     
  8. Ahcuah

    Ahcuah Barefooters

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    I have over the years written 3 blog posts about heel-toe vs. toe-heel walking.

    Heel-toe? Or Toe-Heel?

    Heel-toe Revisited

    Do You Have Ape-Feet?

    One thing that strongly suggests that a lot of (ancestral) barefoot humans walked heel-toe is our outsized calcaneal (heel) bones compared to other great apes.

    That said, if you want to walk with less heel strike and not look goofy doing so, the secret is to bend your knees slightly to lower your center of mass by maybe an inch.

    PS. For new barefooters, I think my blog, started back in 2009, is a pretty good resource. It'll just take you a long time to get through all the entries.
     
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  9. Sly

    Sly Chapter Presidents
    1. Portugal

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    depends on the surface.
    gravel invites me to shorter steps, bent knee, "whole-foot" landing
    road is less challenging, so I land with heel first. But its very gentle.

    I'm not sure this is so important.
    Bikila won the marathon in Rome with bare feet, and touching the ground with heel first.
    Maybe we tend to focus too much on that point.
     
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  10. Christian Lemburg

    Christian Lemburg Barefooters
    1. Germany &...

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    After converting to barefoot running, I started to learn barefoot walking toe-heel style, landing on the forefoot, then touching down with the heel. I looked really weird, I still remember my wife and daughter commenting on it. After three years now, I can switch heel-toe walking and toe-heel walking in mid-gait, step by step, and you won't see it. It's a question of practice. I use both gaits now, enjoying the "floating" feeling of toe-heel, and using the stability of heel-toe when carrying loads, or walking very slowly, or when I have to use dress shoes. When barefoot, I prefer toe-heel walking by now, for the feeling of it.

    There is a Dutch guy out there - Wim Lujpers - he has some books in German on running and walking that are quite good. And there is Stefan Heisel, a German physio and barefoot enthusiast who has a good course on barefoot walking, again, in German language only I think. Ultimately, it comes down to practice, patience, and coordination. Look at those ballet people walking on stage - toe-heel walking with an attitude. How do they do it? Practice ...

    Good luck, and have fun experimenting ...
     
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  11. Tyler J L

    Tyler J L Barefooters
    1. Iowa

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    I walk barefoot as much as I can weather permitting. It's so liberating and I can feel my foot muscles get stronger and the soles getting tougher.
     
  12. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    http://phys.org/news/2016-12-heels-toes.html

    Heel-toe is more efficient and natural looking. Toe-heel is safer on gnarly ground but looks effeminate. Flat foot is in between and looks clumsy. Now I do whatever the conditions dictate. After a long fling with toe walking I switched back to a gentle heel strike on easy ground and got a significant speed boost.
     
  13. IncredibleBulk

    IncredibleBulk Barefooters
    1. Oregon

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    Out here in Oregon we're experiencing 'Snowpacylpse 2017', and I had to walk across some ice in our parking lot yesterday, and was fascinated to see that I instantly went into a 'barefoot' stance - knees bent, walking on the fore/midfoot. Interesting - that in uncertainty/instability the body immediately kicks into that mode of locomotion. Perhaps additional proof of pre-shod locomotion? Vestigial behavior? :)
     
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