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Barefoot Walking

      Barefoot walking will prepare you to learn how to run barefoot.  Walking barefoot will reduce the likelihood of injury once you begin running.  This activity can be utilized before beginning the “Lose the Shoes” plan.

     When walking barefoot, there is some disagreement on form.  Some barefoot practitioners will recommend using a midfoot strike; others will recommend a heel strike.  Either will work as long as it is comfortable.  Some people successfully use one or the other.  Most people seem to use one or the other depending on conditions such as terrain, pace, and stride length.  If it is comfortable, it would be advantageous to use a midfoot strike while taking shorter, more frequent steps (higher cadence, shorter stride length).  This will help strengthen your feet and acclimate you to good barefoot running form.

     Barefoot walking will also help condition your soles for barefoot running.  Contrary to popular belief, the soles of your feet do not develop calluses.   Instead, your feet develop smooth, tough skin best compared to smooth leather.  When you begin navigating your environment barefoot, your feet will be very sensitive to everything.  It is similar to going from a dark room to a light room… you experience a short period of being uncomfortable.  You may experience the same sensations when you start going barefoot for the first time after winter.  You quickly adapt to the sensations.  New barefoot runners are often preoccupied with this sensitivity.  Rest assured, you will quickly adapt to this new feeling.

      It is important to remember to look where you are walking. This is an excellent time to develop the habit of quickly scanning the terrain you are about to walk over.  This skill will be critical once you begin running.

     Barefoot walking can be good practice to adapt a run/walk strategy for races.  This strategy is often used for newer runners to help cover a distance that would otherwise be difficult to achieve if running alone.  It is also a common strategy for running ultramarathons.  If you have aspirations to run those distances, learning to walk barefoot now will pay dividends in the future.