There is a movement out there that is picking up momentum. It is the barefoot running and minimalist shoe running movement. Shoe companies such as Merrell have even changed the way they do business and are turning towards minimalist shoes that they call “barefoot shoes.” I know it is an oxymoron, but it is the new buzz word in the shoe industry, so deal with it.
A leading expert in the barefoot and mimimalist running industry is Jason Robillard from the Barefoot Running University. He is on the forefront of educating the masses about the benefits of barefoot running. He still uses minimalist shoes as tools for various races, training, or terrains. I have clearly talked about him tons on this site, especially because he is my burger eating/beer drinking buddy as well. But seriously, he is an expert in the area and has great advice and information for those who are interested in barefoot running. You want to buy a minimalist shoe? Well check out his website for reviews.
Now, let’s get on topic. Crosstraining is a different animal than running, so even if there are benefits for barefoot running, what does that mean for crosstraining? I’ll be honest with you, there is little research in this area. Having good running form is essential to avoiding injury, and being barefoot is the best way to learn good form. However, what we do here at Kemme Fitness does not involve long distance running.
So why do I crosstrain barefoot?
I’ll be honest with you again…it just feels so damn good! I love the feel of the tactile response I get from getting out of my “foot coffins.” Ok, I stole that phrase and I’m probably not cool enough to use it, so I’m sorry to you real barefoot runners out there.
There are some other practical reasons here as well. I originally started because we still do some running and my IT bands would flare where they attach on the outside of my knees whenever I ran frequently. I began barefoot walking as suggested by Jason Robillard in his successful book, The Barefoot Running Book (I strongly suggest you read his book for tips on good form and how to start slowly and avoid pain as you learn to walk and run properly). Myself, I felt some top of the foot pain originally, as well as some discomfort from my calf stretching out to the natural shape. But guess what…no more IT band flares!
I have written another post on some safety issues for crosstraining barefoot. That post included some of the benefits as well, such as better balancing and the ability to perform Olympic lifts with heavier weights.
The barefoot crosstraining movement is no where as explosive as the barefoot and minimalist running movement, but I am here to tell you…we are not alone!
I urge you to try taking off your shoes. Make sure you are not doing box jumps on hard edged wooden boxes or anything your first day, but try doing a workout barefoot.
If you need a little protection and don’t want to purchase those expensive minimalist shoes, then pick up a pair of Aqua Socks from Meijers (or whatever your local supermarket chain is called) for $9.99 and use those. They are just as effective, but most likely won’t fit perfectly. But since we aren’t running 25 miles, a little sloppy shoe seems to work just fine.
And we want to here from any of you out there who are already crosstraining barefoot. What advice would you give? What do you like best? What safety tips can you share?