Barefoot Running - Chi Running

Barefoot Running

Posted by Michelle Muldoon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010, 6 comments

There is much debate in the running community about barefoot running these days .  The author of Born to Run, Chris McDougall, a book largely responsible for the increased interest in barefoot running, was in London this week and gave a talk hosted by Terra Plana.  It was interesting to learn that he does not do all his running barefoot but only when the terrain allows.  He accepts that it is important to learn how to run and that it is not just a question of getting rid of your running shoes and running as if nothing had changed.

He and I are in agreement on that score. However, he does not favour ‘transitioning’ and feels that the runner should go ‘cold turkey’.  This is where he and I disagree.  Although I am a Vibram Five Fingers wearer these days and I do some running in them, most of the time I wear a running shoe that has a little more protection in them.  Four years ago when I decided to focus on running technique, I took some Chi Running lessons.  At that time, no-one could have persuaded me to start running barefoot or even in minimal shoes, given the particular injuries I had.  Many people feel this way.  If you have been running for a long time, I believe it is better to start working on your running form in the shoes you are in and gradually reduce the amount of support and cushioning.  If you have just taken up running, then choosing a minimal running shoe is a great start.  In both cases, you can mix it up with a little barefoot running and still get the benefits of enhanced proprioception while allowing your body time to adapt.



  • barefoot running,
  • running shoes,
  • born to run,
  • minimal shoe

6 CommentsLeave a comment below

Interesting thing that of barefoot running.  But, with all the technological advancements and tangible benefits from running shoes to running in the last decades, why would barefoot running be a new hot issue?  Of course, other than the freedom or sense of retro imbedded in it?  Would it not be like calling in new injuries and aches and pains that could eventually provide more negatives than positives?

Gustavo   Your’e missing the benefit here.  Barefoot running forces you to adopt a more efficient style of running with less injuries over time. Try it on grass and sense the changes in foot plant and posture.

Laura Houston Jun 13th, 2010 02:03pm

Totally agree with you, Michelle! You need to rough up your feet first to barefoot run - otherwise they will get pretty messed up as the skin is soft! BTW, I ‘raced’ in my VFF Bikilas in a local 5K last Friday night (it started at 7 pm). I’ve been running at least once a week in VFFs for over a year now, so I decided to ‘step it up.’ What an awesome experience!

Before ChiRunning I tried to “naturalize” my Running by wearing FiveFingers. And although I finished a Marathon in Nike Free 3.0 and my feet felt very well, running in FiveFingers resulted in lots of pain (calves muscels overstrain, serious knee Problems…).
Since I startet ChiRunning I got another sense of my body and focussed on harmonic movement, relaxation and very low impact.
Today I love to wear my FiveFingers, because they show me every wrong form focus of pelvis rotation and unnecessary lower leg activity.
Wenn I’m doing the focusses right, the FiveFingers give me a wonderful natural feeling, even when I run for 20k.
So I think: do ChiRunning first and try using those barefoot shoes as helpful control instruments. If you run fine, they are marvelous. If not, they show what You do wrong.

Gustavo, Despite all the technological advancements in running shoes, a huge percentage of runners are still getting injured.  As runners and indeed walkers, we simply cannot feel the ground in big cushioned shoes.  Feeling the ground can give us enormous feedback about how we move and help us to run/walk injury free.  Running technique and gradual progression into less of a shoe are the keys.

Laura, The Bikilas are not in the UK yet.  Looking forward to trying them.  Sounds like you had a great run!

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