I want to pass along a very good article I found this morning via my RSS feed. It’s titled “Less From Your Shoes, More From Your Feet,” and comes from the University of Virginia’s Center for Endurance Sport. The article suggests some tests and exercises for improving the flexibility of one’s feet in order to transition successfully from traditional running shoes to minimalist shoes. It seems to me, though, what the article says is even more important to barefoot runners.
Here’s a pointer to the article itself. To summarize for you, the article suggests that the critical factors are ankle mobility, plantar facsia mobility, single-leg standing balance, and the ability to isolate the flexor hallucis brevis (the muscle whose action flexes the big toe). It seems that, if we have have flexibility in the above areas, we’re going to be better minimalist/barefoot runners.
Now, I don’t do badly with the first three of those critical factors. But I can’t isolate the movement of my big toes very well at all. (Look at the photos in the article to see what I mean.) The good news is that I now have some more tools to use to improve my barefoot running form and technique – and perhaps put an end, once and for all, to the occasional bruising of the ball of my right foot.
If this resonates with you, have a look at the article and tell me what you think.