Thursday, 27 October 2011

Natural running

To run barefoot is your default setting, but to do this in today’s world, you need a shoe that gives a balanced, unrestricted and protected experience, while also allowing maximum sensory feedback between your feet and your brain. 

Most people are never taught how to run correctly. Here at FAST TRAX and with help of the VIVOBAREFOOT training system we believe running is a skill that can be learned, allowing you to run efficiently and injury free.

Vivo barefoot movement expert, Lee Saxby, has helped Vivo to develop a training system that differs from the conventional model. Below is an overview on how to transition safely to barefoot running.
The human brain constructs complex movement patterns by adding simpler movement patterns together. This can be seen as human infants progressively learn to creep, crawl, sit, stand and eventually walk.
These movement patterns are called ‘motor skill milestones’ and must develop sequentially, each stage built upon the skills developed in the previous one. Inadequate development of one of these stages/skills dramatically effects the quality of the more complex movements constructed from it, leading to inefficiency and injury.
We have outlined a number of barefoot skill benchmarks that should be completed and mastered before moving onto the final stage of barefoot running.
There are 3 barefoot milestones that must be learned and perfected before you progress to the next stage.
Each movement should be performed with the barefoot human movement philosophy firmly in mind: Efficient, injury free movement is built on a foundation of correct posture and rhythm and adequate sensory feedback of environment.
So whenever you are running barefoot, in minimalist shoes or any type of shoes for that matter make sure you keep the fundamental movement check list in mind:


Walking around barefoot begins to reconnect your brain with the sensory information coming from the soles of your feet.

It allows your mind to adapt to this new information and label it appropriately as non-threatening and useful as opposed to uncomfortable, painful and potentially damaging.
When you can walk barefoot in a relaxed, rhythmic manner across a variety of surfaces both natural (grass, mud, sand) and man-made (concrete and tarmac) without hesitation and tension then your feet are ready for barefoot running.
Correct walking posture

How to?

  • Weight moves from heel to big toe
  • Shorter strides
  • Don’t look down
  • Relaxed, symmetrical rhythm

What could I be doing wrong?

  • Long strides
  • Leading with head
  • Leading with pelvis
  • Weight moving to outside of foot

Next Step

Mastered barefoot walking? Move onto squats.


Populations who are habitually barefoot or use minimal footwear also rarely possess chairs. Hence they spend a lot of time in a deep, balanced squatting position whilst eating and working.

The squat is a very therapeutic position for the human body, especially for barefoot runners as it develops the skill of maintaining the body’s centre of mass over the natural balance point of the body (ball of foot) whilst building strength and range of movement in the ankles, knees, hips and spine. These attributes combined enable the barefoot runner to develop the fundamental movement skill of segmental alignment which is more commonly known as posture.
Barefoot deep squat

Barefoot front squat with bar

What could I be doing wrong?

  • Putting weight on your heels
  • Leg strength not adequate for full range squat

Barefoot Jumping

Jumping is the next progression in movement skill. It maintains the balance, flexibility and posture developed in stage 1 but increases dynamic strength and elasticity in the running anatomy.

The elastic recoil of tendons is an important energy saving mechanism in running and a lack of coordination of the ‘stretch-shorten’ cycle is associated with injury. Elastic recoil and the ‘stretch-shorten’ cycle is developed in movement via the skill of rhythm.
Jumps on two legs with bar

Jumps on one leg

Hopping with bar

Jumping rope

What could I be doing wrong?

  • Losing balance due to poor alignment (posture)
  • Too much muscle action due to slow/sticky rhythm

Next Step

Mastered barefoot jumping? Move onto barefoot running.

Barefoot Running

Barefoot running is a natural extension of the skills learned in the first 2 stages of the training program.

The first two stages will reconnect your brain and body to your feet, develop the fundamental skills of posture and rhythm and begin to condition your movement system with the strength, flexibility and elasticity required for injury free barefoot running.
As your skill develops and becomes a more ‘subconscious’ activity your technique should become increasingly relaxed. Inappropriate muscle activity is inefficient and leads to injury. Relaxed, skillful technique is the sign of a master of any sport and barefoot running is no exception.

  • Torso leads the way
  • Don’t look down
  • Feet under body not in front
  • Land specifically on ball of foot

  • Short strides
  • Elbows match stride rate
  • Bouncy rhythm (180 BPM)

  • Passenger unit (upper body, shoulders)
  • Wrists and hands, feet and ankles

What could I be doing wrong?

  • Bent at hip (chasing head, looking down)
  • Foot landing too far ahead of body
  • Landing on lateral forefoot / supinated
  • Over-striding
  • Slow ‘sticky’ rhythm
  • Tense upper body, shoulders