On my recent trip to Ireland, I made a point of running barefoot on the river rock, flat stone and sand not only along the sea shore but IN the lakes and Atlantic Ocean. I further made a point of running on the cobblestone walkways of Dublin. My reasons for doing so were threefold:
- to improve my response time to changes in the landscape, thus reducing the risk of sprains, strains and abrasions
- to improve the proprioceptive firing and neuromuscular feedback loop from my feet to the rest of my body
- to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments of my feet, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteals, thus keeping me centered and balanced
Further to the above, by running barefoot on varying terrain and degrees of difficult conditions, you are forced to activate from the whole core group of muscles. This in turn causes you to square up the body – the hips are kept level, the shoulders are kept square, the upper body stays quiet and the head and neck stay loose and relaxed. As a result, you run injury-free and quick with virtually no wasted movement.
Take the opportunity to run barefoot along the shores of any body of water. Make sure you run about mid-calf deep and only avoid sharp-edged shells and stones. Do not vary your foot cadence and landing position even though the going will be tougher than on dry land. This will help you lock in better, stay lower and push off more efficiently. Also, if you truly want to enhance your ability to run injury-free (even if you choose to wear coffin footwear of some sort), get on as many different surfaces outdoors in bare feet.
You may not get the chance to run along the shores of the North Atlantic Ocean nor the waters of lower Killarney Lake in Ireland BUT most of you will be able to find lakeshores, riverbeds or creeks to run along. You will not regret the effort – after all, in the long ‘run’, it’s all about being able to run long term – injury-free!!