running downhill!

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by ashley, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. ashley

    ashley Barefooters
    1. Louisiana

    Oct 6, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I'm back! I had a hard time logging back into the site. Anyway, I have been logging in some good miles on the trails at the state park up the road from me. I have to wear my vff 's because the park is fairly new and the trails are covered in gravel. I just cant figure out a safe downhill strategy. What works best for me now is to lean back take short steps and land on the ball. I'm worried that might be too much for my feet. I suffered a stress fracture last fall and really don't want yo be there again. I'm sure y'all have some great expierience with this and I was hoping for some tips. Thanks!
  2. Rusinque

    Rusinque Barefooters
    1. New Jersey
    2. Texas - Austin

    Jan 19, 2012
    Likes Received:
    On trail I usually do very quick medium steps. Im talking lighting speed steps. Lean foward and fly.
    Oh yeah bend your knees a little and youll be good.
  3. EricsLearning

    EricsLearning Barefooters
    1. Virginia

    Nov 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I stay upright relative to gravity and take short steps. I also try to just increase my turnover if I want to go fast rather than take longer steps. Less strain on my quads.
  4. Neil_D

    Neil_D Chapter Presidents
    1. Australia
    2. Presidents

    Aug 30, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Running down slopes takes a while to pick up, I'm not 100% happy with my downhill running. The idea that Ken Bob has is to relax and let your legs kind of collapse at the knee, it's easier said than done as I think that your brain stops you because it's always thinking what if I land on a rock. It's easier to shift your weight off a stone when your running on a horizontal or uphill surface than it is when you are running downhill. I'd like to see some video examples of barefoot downhill running technique.

  5. DavidP

    DavidP Barefooters
    1. North Carolina

    May 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Barefoot Ted running downhill...

  6. BFwillie_g

    BFwillie_g Barefooters
    1. New York
    2. Germany &...

    May 17, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I suggest taking off the vff's and letting your barefeet guide you. Keep the landing as soft as possible, don't slap the feet in the least. Be v-e-w-y, v-e-w-y quiet. I think it's more of a risk, given your SF experience, to run downhill in vff's or any other minshoe.

  7. JosephTree

    JosephTree Barefooters
    1. Pennsylvania

    Sep 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    If your trails are anything like mine, I would stick to the VFFs. I don't think it's the shoes that will get you hurt so much as the form issues. Work at the "flying" and the light, quick steps like Ted in his video (and an excellent teaching video it was, indeed! Thx DavidP!) Did you notice how his arms waved around and floated way out to the sides. Those are for balance and are the biggest noticeable feature of difference between trail and smooth surface hill running, I think. It just takes work and practice.
  8. joohneschuh

    joohneschuh Barefooters
    1. Germany &...

    Feb 19, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Running downhill is challenging. For me the biggest challenge is to learn that I can trust my body and relax even on difficult surfaces and steep slopes.

    Fear of pain can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you fear pain then you´ll probably tense up and eventually get pain. This is difficult to overcome. The mind and the body need to be relaxed at the same time. I believe that this cannot be achieved by working on the form only.

    I´ve learned that I can handle difficult down-hill running best when I focus on self-confidence ("I can trust myself..."), a relaxed body-feel and if possible even fun. Sometimes it feels like skiing downhill, then I know I´ve found the right form. But I can´t tell you specifically how I get there when it happens (it doesn´t always happen).
    What I know is that I play with what the arms do (keeping them high or low, using them for balance). I experiment with how much leaning back works well. To force myself into making very quick steps doesn´t work, this leads to making more mistakes (e.g. hitting rocks too hard). Beyond a certain incline it is too steep to just let go, but braking is still bad. By all means you need to remain relaxed, however steep and difficult it may be.

    So my advice is: practice, trust yourself, make it feel easy and relaxed. Eventually you´ll find a way that works for you.

    When I started to learn bf-running I hated such vague, esoteric tips like the one I´m giving here. (E.g. "relax, relax, relax", "experiment", "everyone has to find his own form"). Now I´m doing it myself :rolleyes: . I hope it helps.

    P.S. Ashley, do you have reason to be worried about your feet (apart from the stress-fracture last year)? Are there any signs of running into a relapse? If so, you might need very different advice.

  9. Gunnar

    Gunnar Barefooters

    Jul 13, 2014
    Likes Received:
    If on flat or uphill you can beat your sneakers pace then am I right that what ever you do, the best you can achieve when running downhill bf is as good as wearing sneakers? I have been good downhiller, or maybe others are very bad downhillers (Estonia is flat land), anyway I have been much faster than majority of guys who finish near me. No, my style isn't good nor probably healthy, I just (over)stretch my step and let the gravity do the job and my arms are working like propellers, but it lets me relax muscles and I didn't hurt my legs nor soles when vearing ff-s but going barefoot is more painful this way. If it's soft surface or smooth asphalt, then its still ok barefoot and I'm fast but rougher descending give me two bad choices: be a macho and still run long and hard and forget the pain (heel skin will have hotspots afterward) or rise the cadence without stretching the step and loose some precious seconds this way. I still can't run dh with light short steps as fast as using long steps but is it doable with a lot of practice?
  10. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

    Jun 3, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Short fast steps, and 'sit down' so to speak, meaning, lower your tush closer to the ground by any extra couple of inches and run with a more bent knee, as if you were 'sitting down' just a bit.

    Short strides, and sit down on more bended knee. :)

Share This Page