I have presented 2 components of a 4-part programme to improve foot activity as it applies to barefoot running (or some form of shod running).
The 3rd component is Strength Endurance – a most important aspect that my Team Over The Top runners use to improve their ability to hold the Squat/Scoot technique of safe, mid-foot running. I have developed numerous exercises within the Strength Endurance milieu – all of which are done BAREFOOT.
- Simulated Running (Upper Body) on Bosu Ball – on the inverted flat side of a Bosu Ball, stand centered and balanced in the low running position. Holding dumbbells in each hand (weight depends on your level of fitness), start by moving your arms in the perfect running action (see picture). Alternate every 10 thrusts with extended arm drives for 10 thrusts. Repeat the cycle for 60 seconds. Repeat with the other leg forward in the running position.You MUST keep the shoulders still and square without hunching them.
- Sumo Squat – assume the correct sumo squat position (see picture). Leaning onto your forefeet whilst holding the fully braced start position, step to your right for 10 strides and back to your left for 10 strides. Repeat for 60 seconds. Rest for 20 seconds. Return to the SS position and step forward for 10 strides and backward for 10 strides. Rest for 20 seconds. Return to SS position and lift the right foot up and down followed by the left foot.Repeat for 60 seconds.
- Squat Flyes + Overhead Raise – standing perfectly balanced with feet under the shoulders on the flat side of a Bosu Ball, lift dumbbells (weight will be determined by level of fitness) into the chest flye position. Repeat 3 times. On the fourth repetition, do an overhead lateral raise, staying in the low squat position (see picture). Repeat the cycle for 60 seconds.Rest for 20 seconds and do a second set.
- 1-Legged Box Hops – mark a box of 5 to 6 inches square. Stand on 1 leg on the outer edge of 1 corner of the box (see picture). Hop to each corner on the 1 leg as quickly as you are able. This should be a low hop from corner to corner – keeping the hips square at ALL times. Continue in the same direction for 60 seconds. Repeat in the opposite direction on the other foot – with NO recovery.Rest for 20 seconds and repeat the above.
Doing this 1 to 2 times per week will take you about 15 to 20 minutes. This is a small investment of time to reap the benefits of improved strength endurance for safer, more efficient barefoot or minimalist running.