By the title I’m saying that personal training is as important to your body as a great pair of shoes. Same really as a terrible workout regime is as bad for you as a pair of stilettos!
So whether you run or walk, your shoes have a major impact on every joint in your body. The latest research is still contradicting when it comes to “barefoot” footwear. Some say it will cure many persistent injuries, whilst others say it’s a major risk to have no support from your shoes. I personally believe both views. Why?, because it purely comes down to YOU.
Spending most of my working career in the running industry, I’ve seen and heard it all. I’ve learnt more from listening to runners of all distances, their injuries and most importantly what shoes they felt were so much better for them than others. And today my best advice for footwear, specifically running shoes, is trial and error. Because that’s what REALLY helped me work out what to put on my feet.
I spent 1 month running in the best supported cushioned shoes. Then another month in a pair of “barefoot shoes”. My distance, pace, recovery etc were exactly the same. Having to put up with niggling injuries my whole life, one of the above shoes made a massive difference, the “barefoot” type was my shoe!
Not only did they somehow cure most of my injuries, I felt so much stronger when I ran or walked!
I had proved to myself that this footwear was clearly better for me over another, chuffed BUT I’m no marathon runner, and if you are one, then my guess is you’re thinking “get real mate”.
I’m not saying that going barefoot is the way for everyone, but I am saying that it is a great added training tool for whatever distance you run!
Here’s some simple sciencey facts from some of those profs out there:
- Barefoot shoes allows your feet to react naturally, which is what we want.
- Our feet are evolved shock absorbers, with clever cushions already built in.
- When the foot hits the ground, the muscles, tendons, ligaments etc react to support, decelerate and propel us forward.
- Chunky cushioned shoes are like little “sofas” for your feet, so with each step your foot doesn’t need to be strong, it can chill out instead. When was the last time you heard of “sofa” strength training? You didn’t, our feet like the rest of our body parts are designed be strong and support us, so let them do their job!
So not exactly solid technical evidence above, but simple researched facts none the less.
So what do you do? Think of a barefoot shoe like a great PT session. Your coach/trainer will get you exercising correctly and target all the right muscles, your barefoot shoes will do the same. Every time your foot lands all the right things will turn on, and ultimately everything else above it! So you might not like the idea of running a long way with no support or extra cushioning, but you can walk, jog or anything you choose to see what affects it has.
Like anything in sport/exercise, your body will have to get used to it sensibly slowly. Your whole body will ache in places you didn’t know existed, and it will take you longer to recover in the beginning. One things for sure, you’ll need strong calfs for barefoot running. Most people will Strain their calf muscles doing to much to soon. So here’s a couple of simple ways of getting them prepared for the new challenge ahead;
Exercise 1: The straight-knee eccentric heel drop.
The ‘left calf is the one you’re slowly lowering down on. Note that the right leg is used to return to the “up” position. Once you can perform this exercise add resistance using weights.
3 X 20reps, 30sec rest.
Exercise 2: The bent knee eccentric heel drop.
As with exercise 1, the opposite leg is used to return to the “up” position. This time, bend your leg at the knee and slowly lower yourself down.
3 X 20reps, 30sec rest.
Whether you’re a runner, walker, gym goer, allowing your feet to do more of the work than a pair of shoes could have great benefits.
@guybarkerpt for BodyStudio