The Physiology of Barefoot Running

As an exercise physiologist, I spend hours (and spent years) studying the inner workings of the body’s response to physical effort. Having shifted to barefoot running many years ago (mainly due to ongoing injury problems whilst logging copious kilometres in ‘coffins’), I feel qualified to make the following statements:

1. running barefoot stimulates improved flow of blood naturally from the lower body back to the heart-lung system. This means toxins (lactic acid etc.) are more efficiently flushed out

2. running barefoot causes fewer muscle micro-tears that can lead to slower recovery from tough runs and/or races

3. running barefoot activates the nerve endings, tendons, ligaments and, ultimately, muscles of the feet continuously to improve balance, power and running efficiency

4. running barefoot (contrary to some of the current ‘research’) actually improves the energy flow system resulting in LESS energy being expended over the same distance at the same pace (I stake my degree on this!)

Personally, I have noticed that post barefoot racing or intense training (hill and track work), I have NO muscle soreness, no aerobic system ‘crash’, no muscle cramping and NO energy fatigue. I am able to do my normal runs the NEXT day with NO performance drop-off and NO injuries. I also have NO mental let-down. The constant in all of this? Running and racing barefoot. Even though I have no scientific evidence to support the above claims, actually experiencing them repeatedly is proof enough for me (and those I train). Let my scientific colleagues prove me wrong…

coach Jeff

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