Barefoot Running is getting popular across runners, but it is also causing injuries due to runners transitioning from it quickly. Since most runners are used to thick running shoes, their foot and the way they run are used to that protection their running shoes give them. That’s why you will experience pain if you move to barefoot running shoes or minimalist running shoes.
Some are the common injuries that you’ll suffer if you move to barefoot, and how to prevent them while still getting the benefit from it.
Blister is from the friction occurs agains the skin, which is very common to all runners, barefoot especially. This is due to the slipping, pushing and having a not-so-snug fit from your shoes. Another cause is, running barefoot for too long, too hard or improper running form.
Quickly put a bandage on it, avoid from contact. You can try to soak it in green tea with baking soda, check out the tips here.
Calf muscles are the ones takes the hammering when you are doing forefoot stride, make sure you are adding strenght training to develop the other muscles in your lower body.
Iced it immediately, elevating the affected muscles can help too. Rest your calf, do not push it. Compression can also be applied with bandage to decrease the swelling, not to tight though.
Damaged Achilles Tendon
This is the pain or tightness on the back of your heel that extends upward toward your calf muscles.
Doing too much soon puts excess stress on the achilles tendon, causing it to shrink and become tigher. Can also be cause of being flat feet, overpronation. The impact of your step, will arch your foot to collapse stretching the muscles and tendons.
Rest your achilles tendon, avoid any running until it completely heals. You can put ice on it to reduce the pain, and other pain relievers. Wear a atheltic shoes that will protect the tendon while it is healing.
switching to barefoot running without enough transition time generally leads to heel striking, which increase the strees load on the plantar fascia. a quicker cadence can help runners avoid this injury.
Switching to barefoot running without proper transition will generally leads to heel striking, that will increase the stress on plantar fasica. Other cause will be when you have high arches, flat footed, you have excessive pronation, you run for long periods on hard surfaces.
Give yourself a rest, make sure no running that will make the pain worse. Try to ice it to reduce the swelling, and take pain reliever. Adding new stretching routine before running can definitely help your recovery, such as toe stretches, calf stretches, several times a day. Getting a new pair of running shoes that has a good arch support and well-cushioned sole can help as well.
Metatarsal Stress Fracture
You have a very limited flexibility that leads to harder foot plant, without proper build up heel and midsole cushion, this will be a big problem for barefoot runners who run too much too soon.
Rest it and don’t do any running or activity that involved standing, you can use a protective footwear that has stiffer soles or a foot brace that will keep the injury stable and prevents it from further damage. It is always better to consult a physician, to guide you better.
Sesamoids helps you absorb the shock and distribute the forces acting on your big toe joint. These forces greatly increases when the runner makes a hastly shift to forefoot running, causing a huge distress in an area that is suspectible to overuse injury.
Icing the area will reduce the inflammation and pain, you can also use a sesamod relief sleeve to reduct the pressure placed. Using a proper arch support shoes can help you distribute the force througout the arch, thus taking care of your entire foot.
Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome
For barefoot runners, the workload on two major calf muscles the soleus and gastrocnemius may increase when switching from running form, poor joint range of motion and weak muscles in the ankle, pelvis and foot.
You should do some stretching or strenght training, massage or even take a break from running. To make sure everything is taken care of, always consult to your doctor.
Other common reasons why beginner barefoot runners get hurt are:
- Transitioning from barefoot too fast and puts too much pressure on the calf and foot muscles
- Overstriding while you continue to heel strike, a very comon error
- Used to stiff sole and arch support will prevent you from natural flattening the arch in barefoot running
How to progress in barefoot running
- Week 1-4: Lower extremity exercises 2-3 times per week, walk 30 minutes barefoot.
- Week 5-6: Barefoot run 1km 2-3 times per week on a soft surface, suggested as a warm up or cool down from your more serious running.
- Week 7-8: Increase barefoot running by 10% weekly 2-3 times per week on a soft surface.
Hope this helps you to transisition from barefoot running, as I am transitioning myself. I did hurt myself due to lack of patience (I’m sorry foot!) and overconfident in running with minimalist shoes. As of now, I am liking the walking barefoot thingy, but will eventually go back to running barefoot once I build up the strength needed and fix my form a little.
What kind of pain did you suffer during the transition from barefoot running? What tips did you do to help you overcome it? I’m pretty sure other runners will find it helpful, please let us know in the comments below!