When you run barefoot in the cold, your muscles are forced to do the work to support your feet that shoes or over-supportive boots used to do. Before, when you ran in the cold, your body shunted blood AWAY from your feet and to warmer parts of the body because the feet didn’t need the bloodflow. But when you’re barefoot, your feet NEED the bloodflow to stay warm…so, instead of shunting blood AWAY from your feet, the body pumps more of the hot stuff TO your feet.
AKA, your feet stay warm in the cold. Yes, warm enough to run in the snow. And while I love running in the snow in my shorts (my legs get beat red and my feet sweat for hours, keeping a good layer or two on the legs helps the feet stay even warmer. Just watch your stride, it can be thrown way off by the clothes.
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Ways in Which Our Feet are Weak
1.) Our Arches are AsleepWith ‘great arch support’ found in traditional running shoes, our strong and springy arches haven’t had to work. Moreover, by relying on arch support, we’ve locked out one of nature’s greatest shock absorbers and stabilizers, and reduced our arches to mush. They can be rebuilt and raised up stronger than ever; however, you have to start slow. Wisely, the Five Fingers are built with minimum arch support. That’s great for letting your foot do the work. But, if you do too much too fast, your muscles won’t be able to handle the new workload. Instead, you’ll force the job onto your plantar fascia, the band of easily-upset connective tissue running the length of the bottom of your foot. It was never meant to handle such force, and can quickly lead to Plantar Fasciitis.
2.) We’ve Lost Flexibility
Our incredible foot flexibility and dexterity has been eliminated by stiff soles and over-effective ‘motion control’ systems. Our feet were meant to bend and flex, fore and aft, and to the sides. This allows us to absorb impact, use the foot as a spring, and handle uneven terrain and rocky surfaces. We once had incredibly flexible feet – just look at those of a baby. But now our feet have become as rigid as our shoes. While we NEVER twist our feet in our shoes, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do in your Five Fingers for terrain, propulsion, and shock absorption. It’s a big part of what makes us feel ‘free’. However, building this flexibility takes time. Do too much too fast, and you risk tendonitis, strained ligaments, tears, or even a stress fracture by putting new forces on your feet.
3.) Our Achilles and Calves Have Weakened and ShortenedEver taken a close look at the heel of your shoe? Chances are it’s almost an inch high or GREATER. Now, I’m not talking about high heeled shoes, but your RUNNING shoes. Supposedly, this high heel helps ‘protect’ our foot with extra cushioning. But what it really does is prevent your foot from its full range of motion. Our bodies adapt to raised heels by shortening our achilles and calves. To add insult to injury, when we’re forced to heel strike, we lock our achilles out of the equation. The achilles can handle almost two tons of force if fully strengthened, but in a modern running shoe that promotes heel striking, it hasn’t had to work.
The Vibrams, however, allow you to use a more ‘natural’ stride, and that means landing on your forefoot, loading your achilles and calf, and springing back with each step. That’s why the achilles was built so strong in the first place and it takes time to build them up again. Work your calves and achilles too much and too soon and you’ll pull and strain these muscles and tendons, or literally tear them apart.
4.) Our Incredible Toes Have Become Unbelievably WeakDid you know 18 out of 19 muscles and tendons of our feet connect to our toes? Mother Nature wouldn’t have done this if the toes weren’t vital to our feet. Unfortunately, our poor toes have been asleep for years. Look at your current running shoes. See how high the front of the shoe is off the ground? That’s called ‘toe spring’. Shoe manufacturers add toe spring to help your foot roll more easily. Now look at your foot. Are your toes up and off the ground? Far from it! We grab with our toes, support ourselves with our toes, and keep our arches strong with our toes. Strong toes and the attaching muscles are essential for our stride and healthy feet. When you have strong toes, you have a strong foot. But in a shoe with toe-spring, there’s no way for our toes to spread, grab, or feel the ground. This atrophies all connecting muscles, making them incredibly weak. Wake up your toes too quickly and you’ll start tearing your feet apart.
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Here are 5 things to expect on your path to running barefoot:
1. Skin will be soft and tender. If you run or walk every-other day, the skin has a chance to grow back STRONG.
2. Your arches will fatigue. Try toe scrunches or working with a golf ball (grabbing it with your feet) to strengthen the arches. Then give them too a day of rest in-between runs.
3. The ground will feel hard. This is a great thing! Don’t look for soft surfaces, but hard surfaces such as pavement or asphalt to feel the ground and learn to step light. As soon as your feet fatigue, or you start to hit hard, GO HOME, you’re done.
4. You’ll learn a new stride. You’ll learn you have to stand tall, to keep your core engaged (stomach and back), and you’ll have to land on your toes. Land light and listen. Slapping the ground hard…get forward on your toes. Pitter-pattering light, you’re doing it right!
5. Everything under the skin will fatigue, then grow strong. It takes time. Listen to your feet and in particular your skin. Even if you’re a strong runner, or especially if you’re a strong runner, you may not know your ligaments and tendons need strengthening under the skin. You’re using them differently, waking things up, strengthening things long weakened, and relaxing muscles long-since tight. Being a strong runner, or jumping straight to Vibrams can trick you, if you don’t start slow. Consider going barefoot only every other day, and starting truly barefoot…even if you love your Vibrams. When you go without shoes, it’s hard to go too far…because when the skin gets sore, it’s time to go home. In this game, it’s all about awareness. Awareness of yourself, awareness of the ground, and awareness of how fast you can adapt. Learn to be aware, and you too, will fly!!!
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5 Tips to Building Strong, Healthy Pads for Barefoot Running
1. Raw Food = Great! Raw Feet = Not so Great!
Don’t run until your feet are raw. Bring your shoes (I call them hand weights) and put them on, or return home once your feet get sensitive.
2. Never go until you blister.
3. Resting. It’s not being lazy. It’s being smart.
Between workouts, give a day of rest for your pads to develop. If they feel a little hot and sensitive after a workout that’s a GOOD thing, you did well!
4. Just Say “No” to Pencil Erasers.
Stay off of the wet-stuff when building pads…it’s too easy to turn them into pencil erasers when you hit coarse terrain. Then you rub off all of your hard work.
5. Hot, Cold & Everything in Between.
A little heat is good for pad development, as is a little cold. It means coarse surfaces can be good over time, as well as truly rocky ones. Just start slow. If you’re wearing off your pads, you’ll never build them back stronger. Pad growth should be slow and incremental, building layer on top of layer.
Cool now go give away ur shoes since they're for terrorists.