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How Can I Avoid Barefoot Running Injuries?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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The sport of barefoot running has become increasingly popular because this practice actually reduces the likelihood of injury, but barefoot running injuries are still possible and can be quite painful. In order to prevent barefoot running injuries as a beginner, be sure to ease your way into the sport slowly. Most people have been running with shoes for many years, which can weaken the muscles of the feet since the padding in the shoe does all the cushioning for the foot. A sudden introduction to barefoot running can be a shock to these underprepared muscles, leading to injury and pain.

You will need to examine your running stride and likely alter it in order to avoid barefoot running injuries. Most people who run with shoes will run in such a way that the body lands on the heel of the foot during a stride; barefoot runners will end up injuring heels if they run in this same fashion, so to avoid barefoot running injuries, you will need to learn how to run on the balls of your feet instead. This prevents shock from being absorbed by your heels and then transferred into the ankles and lower legs, potentially leading to discomfort or injury.

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Do some research into various foot strengthening exercises you can do at home or at the gym to prepare yourself for this activity and prevent barefoot running injuries. Most of these injuries are not due to the fact that the person is barefoot, but instead due to the fact that the person's feet are not properly prepared for the new running motion. Foot strengthening exercises will help prepare the muscles to move in new ways and support the body more efficiently. Ankle strengthening and mobility exercises will also help prevent barefoot running injuries, as will calf exercises.

Be careful about where you run so you can avoid hazards such as broken glass, rocks and pebbles, and other dangerous objects that can cut the skin. Barefoot runners are more susceptible to cuts and lacerations, which can lead to infections. Be sure you are up to date on your vaccinations, especially tetanus, and try to avoid running in places that commonly have debris spread out over the running surface. Running tracks are obviously the best places to run, not only because debris is less likely to be present, but also because many running tracks are cushioned, which is advantageous for a person who is new to barefoot running.

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