Every now and then, I like to go back to running as how we did as a children, running around a grass oval without any shoes on. There seems to be craze over the last few years about minimal/barefoot running, I’m not going to go into this debate as I’m not an expert but I will put my 2 cents in which has worked for me over the years.
Running during my junior years, I did most of my track sessions on a grass oval with no shoes on. Running without shoes makes an individual very aware of how their foot is landing. Landing on the heel causes unnecessary braking on every stride and this is exaggerated on soft grass as your heel will dig into the turf and make running very hard. The most efficient runners land on their mid-foot and this keeps their strides smooth and fluid. The feeling of where your foot is landing is masked by our shoes hence why it’s important to go back, even just once a month, to reassess where your foot is landing at different running speeds.
You do however have to be careful when attempting to run barefoot especially if it’s your first time. Yes it should strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments of your foot ad allow you to hopefully run in a more natural gait but it does have to be done with caution. I would suggest starting off with a few 100m strides and progress slowly from there. As most people are running in shoes with a drop of 6-12mm going to 0mm (which barefoot is) can overwork the achilles and calf muscles and cause injury.