Check Your Form

Running barefoot or with barefoot-style shoes means changing your gait to avoid injury.

Strike the ground near the ball of your foot or your mid-foot (not your heel).     Photo: Illustration by Chris Philpot

With less-padded shoes, you'll need to run more softly. That means striking the ground near the ball of your foot or your midfoot (not your heel). Feel awkward? Try leaning slightly forward, taking quicker strides (about 180 steps per minute or more is ideal), and swinging your arms faster. "Don't force change to happen," Cucuzzella says. "Get your form down first, then add distance, and the speed will come later."
1. Striking the ground with your heel out in front of your body is both inefficient—since each footfall is like hitting the brakes—and hard on your legs, resulting in much higher impact forces on the heels, knees, hips, back, etc.
2. Landing on your midfoot puts less impact on your body, since bent joints are natural shock absorbers. Hit the ground almost directly beneath your body, lean slightly forward, and use shorter, faster steps—about three per second.

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