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Footloose: Tips for Barefoot Running

Amy Postle

Kick off those shoes for some of your summer miles. Barefoot runners tend to strike with the ball of the foot first, which reduces the force of impact on their bodies, a recent study found. Try it with our easy technique tweaks.

Learn the Ropes

Start slowly, keeping your feet under your hips. Aim to touch down on the outside of the ball of your foot first, then gently lower your heel to the ground, says lead author Daniel Lieberman, PhD, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard.

Jog by the Seashore

You'll burn up to 60 percent more calories by running on the sand instead of the street. It's more challenging than going barefoot on a firm surface, Lieberman says. "You have to engage more muscles to stabilize your feet, so watch your form."

Lighten Up

If you aren't ready to give up sneaks, pick a minimal style, like Nike Free Run+ ($85, nike.com). Shoes like these, with a lower heel and flexible sole, make it easier to replicate a barefoot gait, Lieberman notes.

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