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Correct barefoot running form – avoiding top of the foot pain and tendinitis

First let me tell you my story with barefoot running. I attempted to migrate to minimalist shoes twice and failed. The first time I was a victim of the too much too soon. I didn’t limit my mileage and started off running 5-6 miles. As a result, I had pain on the top of my foot. I don’t know if it was a mild stress fracture or just tendinitis. It’s not like I’m unaccustomed to running in minamalist shoes! I have been using racing flat for several years, why was this transition so difficult for me??? I have run two marathons and done plenty of trail running, I’m a strong runner. Right?!? WRONG. I was in so much pain that I actually put the five finger shoes away and was unsure if they would ever see the light of day. The issue was my form but I’m getting to that.

The second time was after I purchased a pair of the Mizuno Wave Universe 3s.

This is an incredible shoe, it’s actually lighter than the vibram KSO. My thought was that it was the perfect blend of a racing flat and a minimalist shoe. Since they were like a racing flat only lighter I shouldn’t need to worry about hurting myself, right? WRONG AGAIN!! These shoes have a very low heel and I still didn’t adjust my form to absorb the shock. Just like the first time, I was struck with pain. It was the same location, on the top of my left foot, right below the toes. I couldn’t believe it, what was I doing wrong?

The Answer!
This video opened my eyes to some of the issues.

Practice these exercises and take note of your form. If you have access to a treadmill, try completely removing your shoes, and go for a brief run. I was still pushing off with my forefoot, and I wasn’t lifting my knees. Another common mistake of runners new to barefoot is trying to run on the forefoot only. It’s a combination of both forefoot and mid-foot that helps absorb the impact. You need to LIFT YOUR KNEES, not push off your forefoot. This was the big mistake I was making. You need to bend your knees, but not too much. Like he says in the video it’s 50% elasticity and 50% muscle action. The combination of poor posture and too long of a stride also wasn’t helping my cause. You need to increase the amount of steps you take as you transition. This was also very different than traditional shod running. With this new information in mind, I’m now working on the problems that caused injuries. My hope is that, with this next season of running, I’ll increase my efficiency and prevent injury all while enjoying my fun minimalist shoes. That’s what I hope at least… I’m still dealing with some calf soreness as I change my form, but I’m taking it slow this time.

Post in the comments your experience with barefoot running. Let me know anything you’ve done to help the transition.

Published inRunningTrail RaceUncategorized

One Comment

  1. jp jp

    I’m also another victim of TOTS(Too much too soon) andI’m having TOFP from barefoot running last week but it’s getting better now actually. I applied R.I.C.E method to it. I really need to re-check my form and follow your advice(bend and lift the knees). Thanks for the info.

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