Michael Sandler barefoot | willPowerLife.com

Barefoot Runs: Start Easy… On a Hard Surface

I train barefoot runners, and I tell newbies to start out easy. A hundred yards or so the first time, and stick with a short distance for a while to build up the thickness of the skin. I also tell the new barefooter seek out hard surface. We may spend 20 minutes on the grass, but then we’re on the pavement. Other barefoot fitness activities permit longer workout times, so an indoor barefoot workout is as beneficial as a jaunt on the outdoor running route. Other barefoot workouts permit you to keep your feet on the ground if they get tired. Any barefoot workout will lead to stronger ankles and legs without joints pain.

You may not be a runner after all and that may never change. But you’re human, which means your body will be more efficient if you work out barefoot. Build your body up from the soles of your feet to the muscles within them, and the muscles in your ankles. Your legs will awaken in the process. As your feet bend more, so will your legs, and your abdominals will engage to support your legs in the deceleration phase. Your arms will also experience constructive extra work, by being instruments of balance as your feet get stronger and you balance on the balls of your feet, either in a still Yoga pose or a movement in another style of workout. Read more here from the willPower Method®

Balance is the key word here. Balance will be is best achieved on a solid, flat surface, like the floor of an exercise room in a barefoot workout class that lets your body move while engaging your mind. Any approach that engages your feet and lets them move will help build the essential, needed strength in the feet and ankles that makes the foundation for a stronger body from toe to head.

Take a barefoot walk wherever you can in order to heighten your awareness. The awareness that comes from walking barefoot is primal. You don’t need any special talent or a lot of time to get in touch with this manner of thinking, it is instinctual. You need only to get into doing it so that the nerves in your feet have regular “conversations” with your brain and you will quickly integrate these conversations with your whole body.

The muscles in your legs were made to absorb the impact of exercise, so long as your feet are free to move, meaning freely, without shoes. Being barefoot makes a hard surface soft and much safer than a soft one that can disrupt your balance and cause twisted ankles and falls. On a hard surface, you’re easily grounded. Preventing injury is as simple as listening to your body, and of course your teacher. If it hurts to stand on the balls of your feet, then let your heels back down. You’ll still be getting a good workout. Your will to wait for the right time is as important as the will to push yourself further.

No matter what your pace or skill level, progress is still made one step at a time. No matter what your workout style, you need only to take off your shoes, feel the ground and let your mind listen to your feet.

Editor’s note: To learn more about minimal running techniques,  join Vincent for a barefoot run, or join the willPower FIT STUDIO for Run Club (it’s free!).

Vincent Gerbino

Vincent Gerbino is a barefoot runner, a certified YogaFit Instructor and co-organizer of the Boulder Barefoot Running Club in Colorado founded by Jessica Lee-Sandler. Trained in minimalist running by Michael Sandler, he teaches runners Yoga and barefoot running fundamentals. He has been running barefoot for over three years and has practiced Yoga for 12 years. yogaruuner@earthlink.net