Barefoot Guide: Barefoot Running vs Minimalist Running

Now you know why it’s a good idea to try running barefoot. But before we go any further, I want to make an important point.

There is a difference between “barefoot running” and “minimalist running,” even though most people classify them both under the “barefoot” label.

Barefoot running.

Barefoot running is actually running barefoot. This means you’re not wearing any shoes or socks, and your bare feet are touching the ground.

Minimalist running.

Minimalist running is when you wear light footwear, which you could call “barefoot-style” or “minimalist” shoes. These lightweight shoes are quite different than the typical highly-padded running shoes you see, but they still aren’t the same as being barefoot.

Why the difference?

The difference isn’t about classifying different types of footwear. Nor is it a way for the true barefoot runners to be more elitist than everyone else.

It’s because running completely barefoot and running in lightweight shoes isn’t the same. You just have to try it out and you’ll feel the difference. Personally, I feel a lot smoother and more fluid when running completely barefoot. I lose a little bit of that feeling in light shoes.

I didn’t think much of it until I found a study showing that even a thin sock will decrease your foot’s proprioception so it can’t send the same signals to your brain. I’m not a scientist, but what I’ve experienced confirms this.

What should you do?

Only a few diehard runners do everything completely barefoot. It’s perfectly fine to limit your true barefoot running to grassy fields, and do most of your running in lightweight running shoes. This is especially true when you are first starting to run barefoot.

You really have to ease into it, or you will set yourself up for an injury.


Continue reading, Transitioning to Barefoot Running >>

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