In light of recent legal action against the Barefoot shoe manufacturer Vibram ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27335251) I am delighted to welcome my first guest blogger, Anne “Wildbare” Rosbottom!
This is the first in a series of barefoot blogs written by Anne and gives a fascinating insight into what it takes to reap the benefits of the Barefoot revolution. There is an awful lot more to it than what you put on your feet!
How I discovered barefoot running by Anne “Wildbare” Rosbottom
About me: I am a long-time runner who has spent the last 2 years transitioning to a barefoot running technique. I have no specific qualifications to support the writing of these articles but they are probably no worse than the rest of the rubbish out there!
2 years ago I was out for a family walk in a park whilst visiting my sister in Sheffield. I saw a man run past wearing what looked like a pair of climbing shoes but they were actually Vivobarefoot “barefoot” shoes. As he passed, I noticed how natural and light his footfalls were. As someone who has had a long-standing love-hate relationship with conventional trainers, it sparked my curiosity. I wondered if these shoes could do anything for me? And that’s how my journey into the world of barefoot and minimalist running began.
Like many, the catalyst for my interest in barefoot-style running was years of recurrent injuries. After the birth of my third child, I embarked on yet another series of fruitless physiotherapy sessions in an attempt to rid myself of the aches and pains which had now become part of my daily life outside running. I was looking for an alternative strategy and I found one in barefoot running. The Vivobarefoot website was my first port-of-call. Here I was introduced to the tantalising idea that all of these injuries were in fact caused by my terrible running style, and that it was only possible to run like this because of the padded trainers I wore. Furthermore, by buying their shoes and embarking on a programme of strengthening exercises, I could be converted from a lumbering shire horse to a fleet-footed gazelle and rid myself of my injury problems forever.
A few clicks on Sportshoes.com and I’d got my hands on a pair of those magical shoes. A pair of Vivobarefoot Neos to be exact. By happy coincidence I made contact withVivobarefoot as they were about to visit a local running shop. Consequently, I was fortunate enough to have a free taster session with one of their coaches. The stark contrast between me labouring along in trainers, and barefoot after a few drills was enough to hook me in. This was the real deal and I decided I was definitely going to give barefoot style running a try. And I wish I could say that my transition to barefoot running continued smoothly and in 6 weeks I was an injury free barefoot runner, but unfortunately that is not the case. The truth is, I struggled over the next 18 months – 2 years. I simply had no understanding of good posture and how to complete the drills and exercises which were meant to teach me good form. My progress was slow. I had three more sessions with different Vivobarefoot coaches, some Alexander Technique lessons, and continued my weekly pilates lesson. I improved to the point that I could run several times per week and up to an hour but the niggles, though reduced, still persisted. What finally brought things together was a day course with Pose coach Tony Riddle at the Gloves Club, London, followed by a generous amount of on-line support. In the 5 months since the course I have worked very hard to master the exercises meant to teach me good movement patterns. It has taken me a while but it is finally coming together. I have now reached a point where I can comfortably run at least as far and as fast as in conventional shoes and with pretty much no injury niggles. However, I know that there is room for improvement and I am still learning. I haven’t done any speed training yet and if I intend to race on the roads, fell and cross-country my technique will have to be top-notch.
So, becoming a minimalist runner has been a huge journey for me. To get to this stage has required a lot of patience, persistence, and belief that this was the right path to take. I have learned a huge amount of self awareness and I am probably stronger and more flexible than I have ever been. I feel that I now run and perhaps more importantly walk and move in a far more healthy way. And that is going to benefit me for the rest of my life.
Thanks to Tony Riddle for reading the article. http://www.glovesboxingclub.com