Now we’re getting into the nuts and bolts of barefoot running technique. If you’re just joining in, check out the info on keeping your head up and relaxing your shoulders & arms when running. It will make a world of difference in the enjoyability of your run! Moving down to your legs, this has to be one of the most important tips for barefoot running. It all has to do with getting rid of the nasty, jarring impact that happens every time you land on your heel with a straight, outstretched leg. You don’t feel the shock of the impact because you have so much padding in your running shoes, but it’s there, my friend. Believe you me. It’s there.
Running barefoot with the right form will actually be a much gentler way to run, resulting in less injuries. How many older people do you know who had to stop running because of knee problems?
Here’s the deal–your knees are incredible shock absorbers! Think of a spring. When you put something heavy on top of it, what does it do? It contracts. It gives under the pressure to absorb the weight of whatever is on top of it. Then, as the spring bounces back, the load on top of it is propelled forward with much greater ease. Your knees do the same thing with the weight of your body as you run.
Try doing this. Stand up straight and bend your knees. Now bend them more. Now walk forward without allowing your head and torso to bob up and down. Just move along in a straight line while keeping your knees bent. You’ll feel really silly (think Groucho Marx), but it’s a good drill to practice this concept of keeping your knees bent more when running.
Another thing to notice when doing this drill–try to land on your heel while doing it. Pretty difficult, huh? That’s good! I’ll talk more about your actual landing next week, but for now you are probably already aware that landing on your heels first is a no-no in barefoot running. Not only does landing on an outstretched leg cause major impact to travel through your body, but it essentially puts the brakes on your momentum! Then you have to use more energy to propel yourself forward again with the next step.
And speaking of expending extra energy, don’t waste energy lifting your knees when you run. Save that for running in place when you do interval training, but forget about ‘high knees’ when you run barefoot. Keep your knees bent, your body low, and your gait smooth.
Lose the Shoes series posts:
- Lose the Shoes & Keep Your Head Up
- Lose the Shoes & RELAX Your Shoulders
- Lose the Shoes & Bend Your Knees
- The All-Important Barefoot Running Landing
- Lose the Shoes & Feel Like You’re Falling
- Conserve Energy When Running Barefoot
- Training Plan for a Barefoot 5K