Hello and welcome to Natural Running. The aim of this website is to help educate yourself about natural running- what is it, why people do it, how people do it and the reasons behind this initiative. The content on this site will be regularly update with pictures, videos, training tips and lots more.
It is important to know that natural running isn’t for everyone, depending on age, previous injury, fitness levels and other factors. It is very common for individuals to rush this process, however we have worn shoes for the majority, if not all of our lives, therefore we need to take the adaptation process slowly and cautiously.
Read Born To Run? The best running book in years, then take a look at this clip:
Testimonial for Natural Running- Rob Stoyle, Runner, Helmores Partner
"I have been running for 20 yearse and found myself getting bored of doing the same old thing and needed a new challenger, Barefoot running was it! After a bit of research on the internet I found Hodgson Sports Massage in Exeter and booked several training sessions with Clare in order to get my technique and running form correct. Not only has she provided me with the training, knowledge and confidence to go running barefoot but also continued her support, brilliant sports massages.
In fact, I am certain without her expert help I would have given up long ago and I cannot highly recommend enough anyone considering taking up barefoot running to make contact with Clare."
As a qualified Natural Running Coach, I have the knowledge and experience of coaching people to become “natural” and efficient runners. I am constantly updating my natural running guide - “HSM goes Barefoot.” It is full of background information on the subject, shows you the ideal technique, highlights a variety of barefoot technologies which can be trialled at Ironbridge Runner and the 13 stage adaptation programme to get you running naturally.
This pack can be obtained from attending one of my natural running sessions:
An Introduction to Natural Running: A 2-hour session (£50), including a natural running pack, a consultation, a gait Analysis provided by The Running Gait Analysis, an initial natural session and a sports massage provided by Hodgson Sports Massage.
Level 1 Natural Running Package: includes all of the above, plus 2 follow up appointments including natural running sessions and sports massage appointments (£100).
Level 2 Natural Running Package: includes everything within the Introduction package, plus 6 follow up sessions incorporating progressive natural running sessions and sports massage treatments. Once completed, the individual will feel very confident and comfortable to carry on running naturally without supervision. I will still be available to provide advice via phone or email if the individual requires.
The terms natural running and barefoot running can be interchangeable; when running barefoot you aim to run naturally; when running naturally it’s not essential to run barefoot. When I talk about barefoot, I don’t just mean running no footwear or shoes, it also incorporates running with barefoot technologies such as the Vibram 5-fingers, Vivobarefoot and other minimalistic trainers including racing flats such as the Adidas Adizero Adios.
Ok, so what is natural running? Natural running is landing on the mid/forefoot lightly, quietly and stably. Instead of relying on the running trainers to provide the cushioning, we rely on the body- soft landing is the key, the padded balls of the foot are responsible. Over time, the feet will strengthen and harden and these padded areas will sustain impact, pain free. Aim: When running naturally, you want your footsteps to be quiet, if they’re quiet, you’re lovely and relaxed! Keep going!
Of the 206 bones in the adult human body, more than half are in the hands and feet (there are 26 bones in 1 foot). This makes the foot, one of the most complex limbs in the human body. All the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot work together, optimising impact absorption from the ground on foot strike, spreading the load and assisting the spring recoil return. During shock absorption, load spreading and spring return, the Achilles Tendon and Calf muscles are recruited to facilitate.
The three things that you need to remember when running naturally are:
• Upright posture
• Fluid movement rhythm
• Relaxed stride length and body
The foot and lower leg essentially act like a spring. When running, we aim to land on the balls of our feet and then load the heel. Using the elastic recoil in the tissue properties of the Achilles Tendon, Plantar Fascia and ligaments, the foot and ankle work like a powerful spring. This elasticity reduces the amount of energy required to run.
In Africa, barefoot running is common. Abebe Bikila won Olympic gold nearly 50 years ago when running barefoot. More recently, in 1980s Zola Budd competed on the track barefoot. Running in barefoot in long distance events is evidently not a barrier to performance at the highest levels. Running footwear increased originally to act as a barrier to the harsh environment. Anthony (1987) said that running trainers should not be seen as corrective but rather a protective device to harsh external factors.
People running in trainers tend to heel strike due to the cushioning properties in the heel, resulting in large forces travelling through the body. Heel strike means hitting the ground with the heel first, forefoot running results in the forefoot (toe region) hitting the ground first. Yeiss (2000) stated that running barefoot forced people to land on their forefoot which increased the strength of the soft tissues under the arch to act as support. Plantar Fasciitis is a popular, chronic, running injury. Chronic injuries are overuse injuries. The Plantar fascia is the strong tendon running under the sole of the foot which is commonly “inactive” in running shoes, causing the muscle to be weak and vulnerable to injury. Robbins and Hanna (1987) said barefoot running may transfers the shock to the surrounding muscles away from the Plantar Fascia sparing the tendon and resulting in fewer cases of Plantar Fasciitis.
Injuries such as Shin Splints, Runner’s Knee and I.T (Ilio-tibial) Syndrome are related to excessive pronation, supination and shock absorption. Running barefoot could minimise this movement and consequently reduce injury rate.
Acute injuries are random, sudden, one-off injuries. Ankle sprains are a common injury to many sports including running. Robbins, Waked and Rappell (1995) said footwear increased the risk of these sprains because footwear could decrease the foot position awareness. Siff and Verkhoshansky (1999) said that running shoes reduced proprioceptors activity. Physioroom (2001) said Proprioception is how the body senses movement within joint positions and joints. The Proprioceptive System enables the body to know where limbs are without looking, they are found in all joints to stabilise movements and to prevent excessive twisting and rolling of the joints, especially in the ankle. Running barefoot could improve these mechanisms because the ankle would be closer to the ground so the ankle would be more aware of its stability. Stacoff et al (1996) examined movements in a sideward direction and how wearing different types of trainers could affect lateral stability. Results indicated that lateral stability was better barefoot. This could be because the foot was closer to the ground and more aware, due to the proprioceptors found in the ankle being stimulated.
People running in trainers experience more shock travelling through the body when the foot hit the floor compared to running barefoot. This is because when running in trainers, the heel is forced to land first; the leg is generally straight spreading the impact through the body. Running barefoot, it is forced to land on the forefoot because it is painful to land on the heel, with the knee slightly flexed, the body will absorb some of that shock from the ground. Robbins and Gouw (1990) said people wearing expensive running trainers, that were supposed to correct pronation or have the best cushioning technologies around, experienced more running-related injuries than people who wear less expensive trainers. Bergman et al (1995) said that the forces experienced on the hip joint were lower when running barefoot compared to jogging in trainers. Squadrone and Gallozzi (2009) said when barefoot, the body experienced reduced impact forces, the ankle was plantar flexed when it hit the ground, stride length and frequency changed and foot contact time increased.
+ Removing the heel lift of most shoes helps the Achilles tendon and calf muscle stretch and lengthen and may reduce injuries, such as calf pulls or Achilles tendinitis caused by short, tight tissues.
+ Runners will learn to land on the forefoot rather than the heel. The heel strike during running only came about because of the excessive padding of running shoes, but research shows this isn't the most effective natural running stride. Landing on the heel is essentially putting on the breaks every step. The most efficient runners land on the mid-foot and keep their strides smooth, light and flowing. Landing on the forefoot also allows your arches to act as natural shock absorbers.
+You may improve balance and proprioception - you activate the smaller muscles in your feet, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination.
- May Increase Achilles Tendinitis and Calf Strain, most of us aren't used to going barefoot, so a minimalist shoe will be a shock to our feet and our muscles will initially feel overworked. In some people, this may even lead to injuries such as Achilles tendinitis or calf strain when the typical heel lift is removed from the shoes.
- May Increase Plantar Pain, the bottom of the feet (plantar surface) for most people is soft and tender. Going without a stiff-soled shoe may initially cause plantar pain, or in those susceptible, increase the risk of plantar fasciitis.
-Get Ready for Blisters, almost everyone who switches to a minimal shoe or starts going shoeless will find themselves battling blisters for the first few weeks until calluses are formed.
Humans now display 4 forms of locomotion; walking, jogging, running and sprinting. Each form has very different biomechanical differences, especially body position and the position of loading on the foot/body.
Walking- When we walk the foot has 3 pivots, they all work together to allow smooth, horizontal displacement of the body. This is the classic heel-toe movement. We don’t get injured from walking heel- toe because it’s relatively light force experienced by the body. Heel-toe movement is only designed to cope with light forces.
Running- When we run, the foot’s movement reverses to that of walking. Therefore, we land on the forefoot and then load onto the heel. The Elastic Recoil propels the body forwards and results in movement.
Jogging- Jogging is a mixture of the walking/ running movement pattern. It is an unnatural movement in terms of body position/ posture and impact force. “This type of movement is only possible because of reduced proprioceptive feedback to the brain which is due to inappropriately constructed and excessively cushioned footwear.” (Lee Saxby, Vivobarefoot)
Sprinting- Sprinting requires a similar action to running, however when landing on the forefoot they don’t load the heel, this will waste time and energy. Their body posture is more fixed upright with engaged core muscles.
For more information regarding Natural Running please get in contact, I am more than happy to be of assistance- email@example.com