It’s time for another Austin Sports Medicine 101 class!
Since most modern-day athletes have trained in over-protected and over-supported shoes, it’s easy for them to get injured when starting a minimalist running routine if they don’t prepare for the transition. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to help reduce injuries and strengthen feet for barefoot or minimalist runs:
- Transition slowly. Don’t move directly to the minimalist shoe. Step down from the typical over-protected running shoe to a barefoot-mimicking shoe before making the switch to the actual barefoot shoe.
- Walk before running. Think of the traditional running shoe as a cast, in which the bones and muscles are largely held in place, leading them to be underdeveloped. Build up strength and tolerance by going for barefoot walks, first on concrete, and then on grass, sand, soil and rockier terrain.
- Play ball. Use a tennis ball to massage any trigger points out of the bottom of the foot. Just place the ball on a smooth, hard surface, then step on it and roll it around on the corner of the arches and the heels.
- Don’t forget the calves. Take the same tennis ball, but now lay down on top of it with the calf muscle. Use the body to roll along the outside portion of both calves.
- Towel off. Take any hand towel and place it flat on the floor or ground. Attempt to scrunch it up with the feet, then grab it with and lift it off the ground with the toes.