How to Run in Vibram Five Fingers, Barefoot, or in Other Minimalist Footwear (a.k.a. "Barefoot Shoes")
photo credit: Grafik Mekanik
And believe it or not, this is how you used to run as a kid, without even thinking about it.
Unfortunately for most adults, it is commonly believed that in order to run, play, or do anything outside, you must wear appropriate shoes — most often cushioned, heavy, thick-heeled trainers or sneakers. But who can't remember going outside to play, run, and even sprint completely barefoot as a kid? You might even remember hearing your parents yelling as you parted ways out the door to "Put your shoes on!"
Sometimes kids are much smarter than adults — not because they know something, but because they don't. And in the case of modern footwear, it's the kids who are the gurus — they know how to run naturally because they've not acquired the bad habits that come from years of wearing high-heeled platform shoes with expensive swooshes adorning their sides.
When you run the trick is to land lightly — barefoot or minimalist running forces you to land lightly because you'll maximize the feedback from the ground. If you run hard on pebbles barefoot, it will hurt, so you run lightly (and quietly). In turn, impact forces on your body are reduced, allowing you to run pain- and injury-free.
When switching from shod running to barefoot running or running in minimalist footwear such as Vibram Five Fingers, your goal will be to unlearn years of bad habits acquired from running in thickly heeled shoes. This process takes time and it is incredibly important to take it slow. The atrophy to the muscles of your feet, ankles, and legs caused by wearing foot casts can take a long time to rehabilitate. It also takes time to strengthen the bones of your feet and "get" the proper bio-mechanics down!
Below you'll find helpful resources about how to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes such as Vibram Five Fingers. These posts include introductions to popular natural running techniques like ChiRunning and Pose Tech running — methods that serve as guides on your journey to running pain-free — and also a great guide on how to transition to Vibram Five Finger shoes running.
Guides aside, here's the bottom Line:
Running is not supposed to hurt (aside from muscle soreness), and if it is, you're doing it wrong. Barefoot running and Vibram Five Fingers running is about mastering running gently. Do that and you will run pain-free.