Diary of an Injured Runner - I'm Going Barefoot

By Iffley Road. Posted: January 02, 2015

I'm going barefoot. No I don't mean I'm taking up barefoot running. After many years of injury I’m not convinced my biomechanics are good enough for that. I mean that from now on - whenever possible - I'm wearing neither socks nor shoes. The effect that going barefoot has on your toes was revealed during my recent visit to the Sandown Running Show - where I met a man with the most incredible splayed out fan-like toes. Was it thanks to wearing special running shoes I asked? He smiled. No, he said it was purely thanks to going barefoot nearly all the time. In fact this particular runner told me he nearly always runs in sandals.

So what – you might wonder – are the benefits of well-spread toes? My foot surgeon recently pulled out a photo of the feet of the Tarahumara Indians – and explained that splayed out toes give you better push-off. A powerful well-activated big toe is particularly important.

So now I’m at it too, although it requires some getting used to especially in this cold weather. When I’m at my desk I throw a small blanket over my feet and when it’s really cold I pull on my toe socks.

I’m getting some funny looks in meetings. I’m wondering how my accountant will react as we gather to review the full year accounts. Some family members are happy though. Our new puppy loves being able to lick my toes first thing in the morning. Apparently when animals lick you they want to show their love and indicate they understand the household pecking order. Well, if I can’t get through to our three teenagers, at least someone knows who’s boss.

What is more going barefoot enables you to focus on the sensations in your toes. I recently read this will “bring you into the present moment, helping you to concentrate and hopefully make you relax and smile.”

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