Frequently Asked Questions
What about surface hardness? Our ancestors didn’t run on pavement.
A common perception is that running on hard surfaces causes injuries, but runners typically adjust leg stiffness so they experience the
similar impact forces on soft and hard surfaces. Further, forefoot and some midfoot strikers hit the ground in a way that generates almost no collision forces
even on hard surfaces like steel. You can run barefoot and heel strike on a soft beach or lawn, but most natural surfaces are much harder and rougher. With proper forefoot or midfoot strike form, running on hard, rough surfaces can be comfortable and safe.
How do I get started?
It is very important,
in fact critical that you follow a slow progression when you transition to forefoot striking. Even with such a program, you will likely experience some muscle soreness in your calf, lower leg and feet. If you progress too quickly, you risk causing injury to your muscles or tendons. See our
recommendations for getting started in Training Tips.
What surfaces should I run on?
Choose a clean smooth paved surface. A common perception is that our feet were not meant to run on hard surfaces and that running on hard surfaces causes injuries. But our ancestors ran on surfaces of various hardness and forefoot striking when barefoot has less impact than even walking. Runners typically adjust leg stiffness so they experience the same impact forces on soft and hard surfaces (Dixon
et al., 2000).
What happens if I land on a pebble or other debris?
It hurts! But, as long as you are running in daylight, you should be able to see and avoid any debris that might be in your path. However, if you happen to land on a small pebble, you will naturally unload and minimize the pain. Use sound judgment in deciding where and when it is appropriate to run completely barefoot.
Will my feet become callused?
While the skin on your feet may become slightly thicker with barefoot running, the pavement
acts as a pumice stone and helps to minimize too much callusing. You'll find that calluses form most especially on the ball of your foot.
What if I want to wear shoes?
By all means, wear shoes if you want to! You can still reduce your impact forces by utilizing a forefoot of midfoot strike pattern. This is easier if you pick a shoe that will allow your foot to function
as naturally as possible (and, fortunately, many such shoes are