How to Start Barefoot Running
We’ve covered some of the advantages of forefoot running in earlier posts and also did a comparison of the heel strike to forefoot running but today we’re here to explain some of the basics about how to actually start to run using the forefoot.
Learning to forefoot run begins with consciously changing one’s stride from landing on the heel to landing on the balls of the feet. This change is impossible to make if you are still using running shoes with cushioned heels that force you to absorb the impact though your lower legs and up to your spine. Minimalist shoes allow your foot to move in a natural manner that encourages forefoot running rather than defies it.
It wasn’t until recently with the explosion of minimalist running that most athletic coaches and trainer would advocate a forefoot strike, in fact many professionals formerly advised the heel strike when cushioned running shoes were the norm.
When changing to land on the forefoot people often find that it’s easer to do if you are running faster with shorter strides. Sprinter generally rely on their toes and we roll our feet from heel to toe when walking so it makes sense that landing in the midfoot while running would be the natural thing to do. The faster you go the farther up the foot you land.
Another tip that helps those just starting out with minimalist shoes is to lean slightly forward and aim to keep the weight on the forefoot. Running at a slightly forward angle keeps your body’s center of gravity above your forefoot which helps you to use that part of your foot to push you forward rather than your heel.
Keeping your knees slightly bent as you land can also help. This action prevents you from overextending on your stride and helps to absorb the impact from landing. Minimalist running shoes can feel unnatural at first when there is no cushioning to absorb the impact. Learning to properly let your feet and lower leg muscles respond to each step will help you get accustomed to wearing minimalist shoes.
We could go much more in-depth with descriptions about how to land using the balls of your feet and why the minimalist running shoes incorporate zero offset but we found that much of this information has already been covered quite well by The Newton Running, the minimalist shoe company that produces Newton shoes. Below is a video that answer the question: “what is forefoot running?” The company also has an excellent interactive graphic on it’s website that demonstrates optimal running form.