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Barefoot Running: Should You Try It?

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Running Barefoot vs. Running in Shoes continued...

Ditching your shoes means the muscles in your calves and feet will have to work harder to accommodate to a different foot strike and shorter stride. It takes time for new barefoot runners to build up those muscles.

But Clemens is on board. She’s become a regular barefoot runner since the day she abandoned her shoes on the trail. "Without shoes, I’m more attuned to how my body moves," she says. "It’s grounding to feel the earth beneath my feet."

Ready to Run Barefoot?

If you have a history of foot problems, check with your doctor before going barefoot. If you decide to ditch your running shoes, there are a few things you should know, Davis says.

Start slow. You’re more likely to get injured if your foot and leg muscles aren’t properly conditioned for running barefoot. So build up to it. Start with walk-jog intervals, walking for 9 minutes, running for 1 minute, and repeat, working up to longer distances. Also, the skin on your feet needs to thicken to get used to barefoot running.

Think twice. Though there is a risk of stepping on glass or pebbles, Davis believes it’s safe to run barefoot on pavement. If you’re nervous about foot-to-asphalt contact, wear barefoot running shoes instead.

Know when to say no. If you have diabetes, or lose any feeling in your feet, you should wear running shoes when you run.

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Reviewed on February 25, 2014

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