General Questions about Barefoot Hiking/Trail Walking

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Hiking' started by rosiehobbit, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. rosiehobbit

    rosiehobbit
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    1. Oklahoma

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    Hi All!

    So, I'm still fairly new to the whole barefoot running. I mostly wear Xero Shoes when I run outside, though I'm trying to do some completely barefoot.

    I'm really interested in doing some trails barefoot. Nothing major, but I have a few concerns and questions.

    1. I'm clumsy even on a flat surface. No matter how carefully I watch where I'm walking and pick my feet up, I still manage to trip over my own toes at least once every time I go full barefoot. I trip over the front of the Xeros too sometimes.

    2. I'm really sensitive to pain/discomfort. When I finish a walk/jog (mostly full barefoot outside) the bottoms of my feet tend to feel sensitive, prickly and/or itchy for hours afterward. And if I happen to actually come down on a rock or gravel while I"m walking, it's all I can do to get out of it as quickly as possible. I realize it's probably just going to take more conditioning, but will trails be better for this? Especially if I can get on dirt trails? When I was on a trip recently, I spent a lot of time walking on cobbles (excellent practice for deliberate foot placement), but my favorite walk was on some dirt trails where I actually intentionally kicked dirt up over my feet. It felt really good. And my feet were already really tired and sore from days of walking/standing for hours.

    3. This is probably my biggest concern - wildlife. Primarily snakes, spiders and anything else that bites. I live in Oklahoma, and we have lots of these critters. How do you stay safe on the trails? I guess now that I'm thinking it through, it's not much worse than hiking in sandals, but it makes me more nervous.

    I'm sorry this is so rambling. Questions I've been saving up. With it being summer, I thought trails might be a little more manageable with the heat. I'd really like to work on some more full barefoot, but because it's so hot, I'm doing most of my running inside.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. migangelo

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    "Do, or do not. There is no try". - Yoda

    As far as tripping on your toes it could be weak tibialis anterior or glute medius. You can try to massage yourself and find out or get some professional help.

    Your feet will get used to the sensations over time as the skin thickens and the brain can differentiate things.

    No help for the other stuff. No dangerous critters where i live.

    Good luck.
     

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  3. KTR

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    1. Spain - España

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    Hello @rosiehobbit!

    Let's see if I can provide some insights on your concerns.

    1. I used to be clumsy, too. I know that feeling when you trip on your own toes. You say that you pick your feet up, but maybe you still walk a bit careless. Don't get me wrong, I speak from my own experience. I've only been running barefoot for 7 months now, and I've done only two barefoot hikes, but during this time I've noticed that now I trip less than before. I'd say it's a matter of improving your technique. Pick not only your feet up, but your knees. That helped me.

    2. Dirt trails are enjoyable but I don't think they are going to help you develop a good sole thickness as fast as running on hard surfaces (asphalt, concrete) o hiking on rougher trails. I'd simply say you need more training. I'd try to combine different surfaces and give my soles time to get used to them. Soles feeling more sensitive/itchy/prickly is also something I can remember. It lasted until the 5th month or so in my case. Now I don't feel anything like that anymore.

    3. Like @migangelo there are no dangerous critters in my area. Anyway my advice would be you get over it —I mean, literally :D When barefoot you tend to pay much more attention to the ground, so you are likely to spot and to avoid potential dangers more easily. I don't know how dangerous and treacherous those critters of yours are, though.

    I hope this helps you feel more encouraged to keep trying.

    Cheers!
     
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  4. Kyrrinstoch

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    This will just take some practice. the more you're out barefooting (running or otherwise), you'll become more aware of what your feet (and the rest of you) are doing at any given moment and I would expect the "tripping over my own feet" to become less and less common.

    I encountered the same thing when I first started running barefoot - initially the soles of my feet would feel overly sensitive, tingly and even itchy for hours after a run, even if the majority of it was on smooth asphalt/concrete. I understood this to be pretty normal, as my feet were simply trying to adapt to something they weren't used to doing. Now, I can walk/run on gravel/rough asphalt with minimal discomfort and no "post-run tinglies" after a run.

    Might be worthwhile to keep your barefoot distances short until you get a bit more used to it and the "post-run tinglies" start easing up. It'll take a while, but as many here can attest, the time spent building up that conditioning/tolerance is well worth the results.
     
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  5. Tristan

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    If you mostly wear sandals when you run outside, your soles aren't going to be as tough as they could be. This would explain your "really sensitive to pain/discomfort". While sandals might be better than modern running shoes for many things, they wont help toughen your soles, calm your hypersensitive nerves, or fine tune your proprioception. If you are ok wearing sandals on the trail, then sandals in training might be appropriate, but if you want to go barefoot on trails then barefoot in training is pretty much required.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the critters, I don't think there will be a big difference between sandals and barefoot when it comes to snakes and other biting or stinging critters. If it is really a problem there then maybe more protection that sandals is a good idea. Mosquitoes, blackflies, and deerflies are my biggest problems where I have gone to hike.

    Carry some backup footwear until you're confident, and even then I still carry at least some lightweight sandals. One warning about sandals though, if your hike is anything technical with scrambles and other uneven surfaces then sandals might not be a good idea - especially if your feet get muddy or sweaty they can roll around and slip inside the sandal. Have a great time hiking, good luck, and be safe!
     
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  6. Kungaloosh Dan

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    As for critters, most of them will be more scared of you, especially if you make noise. I'm not saying you sign like a viking as you walk through the woods, but even carrying a walking stick and swinging it carelessly at a passing bush to rattle the leaves will tell every critter within 50 yards that you are stomping in their direction
     
  7. rosiehobbit

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    1. Oklahoma

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    Thanks all for the replies! I've been trying to get outside fully barefoot more, but it's hard being so hot right now. I did do 5K this morning fully barefoot outside in the rain. It was awesome! I do have some small blisters on the balls of my feet, but I've had as bad/worse with shoes. Haven't made it out to a trail yet. That may have to wait til it starts cooling down in the fall. Hopefully I can catch the couple of cool days before it flips to freezing! :p

    I've been trying to stay barefoot when I walk outside for anything unless it's the middle of the day. Don't want to burn the bottoms of my feet! I think they're getting tougher with what I've been doing the last month. At the end of my 5K I was pretty gimpy, but I did not trip once, didn't stub my toes and I don't feel like I'm dying. Definite win!
     
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  8. Sid

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  9. Barefoot TJ

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    I had to jump a snake on one of my runs once. If I wasn't paying attention, he would've been a goner.
     
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  10. Barefoot TJ

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    Hi Rosie, I think once you start doing this more and more, you will become more body-aware and be able to balance your steps properly.

    Have you thought about spraying deet to ward off the insects and mace/pepper spray to protect from animals?
     
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  11. Tyler J L

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    I'd start on trails you are familiar with. Grass is the best way to start out since it's soft and smooth.
     
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  12. BareFootHeath

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    Nothing like resurrection of an old post. Reading through it was worthwhile though, I found a couple of answers to questions/thoughts I had bouncing around in my cranium.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  13. BareFootHeath

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    My worst enemy is my expectations and how they exceed capabilities. The majority of my trekking is trails that wind through the forest. Following game trails is usually easier on the soles of my feet despite the crazy routes local critters take. The more established (and sometimes ‘groomed’) trails are the ones that can get more challenging. Trails with duff underfoot are a cakewalk...the more hard packed with exposed gravel are giving me grief at times. I’m aware that I’ve been pushing it so there’s only myself to blame. I’m looking forward to further adaptation of this freeing lifestyle.
     
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  14. Random

    Random
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    I'm glad you did. I haven't read it before, and it has similar concerns and advice that I need, except I'm not worried about bugs or snakes.
     

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