Transitioning to barefoot
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Barefoot training exercisesDCU High Performance Centre have developed a program for Barefoot.ie which aims to improve an individuals functional movement capabilities during barefoot exercise. At present most people wear overly structured shoes that in many instances do not allow the lower limb joints to function correctly and in turn these joints may be placed under excessive stress leading to discomfort, pain and often injury.

Our programme will outline a step-by-step process whereby any individual can improve their functional movement ability through a series of mobilisation and strengthening exercises. As the functional ability of most peoples feet is severely lacking; mobilisation and strengthening exercises for feet will be at the forefront of the programme. However, exercises will be incorporated for the full lower limb kinematic chain.

The programme objective is to enable individuals to run 5km with the correct functional form and pain free running. The program with last for 12 weeks with each step taking 2 weeks.

We will be introducing this program in the next few weeks beginning with step 1. We will be announcing the first step on our Facebook page, so be sure to click 'Like'.

Barefoot running, Step 1:

When you begin to run barefoot you will be engaging muscles, tendons and ligaments that have under utilised for some time so it is important to take time to improve the flexibility and mobility of our feet and lower limbs. The Stretching and Mobility exercises in Step 1 are an important part of barefoot running and will be the beginning of each step as the program progresses. Go to Step 1.

Barefoot running, Step 2:

Continue to apply the exercises learned in Step 1 and add the following foot strengthening exercises. Foot strength is a vital component to Barefoot Running so it is important to take your time and learn these fundamental exercises. Movement is introduced in Step 2 however it begins slowly with a combination of walking and short jogs.  Go to Step 2.

Barefoot running, Step 3:

Continue to apply the Strengthening exercises and add the following whole body movements to help to increase overall athletic movement capabilities. Running/Walking routines continue with the ratios of running to walking increasing as well as the overall duration. Go to Step 3.

Barefoot running, Step 4:

Similar to Barefoot Running Step 3 however you should feel more comfortable moving Barefoot. Continue to apply the Strengthening exercises and add the following whole body movements to help to increase overall athletic movement capabilities. Running/Walking routines continue with the ratios of running to walking increasing as well as the overall duration. Go to Step 4.

 

About DCU Sport

DCU High PerformanceAt DCU Sport our state of the art High Performance Centre is designed to assist elite and developing athletes by providing effective solutions to their every training need; thereby helping them to achieve their individual targets through sports specific training.

A team of full time strength and conditioning coaches and athletic therapists are available to cater for all you prehabilitation, rehabilitation and sports performance enhancement needs. From the elite internationals to recreational club teams the High Performance Centre's aim is to further develop our current elite athlete profile while staying true to our "Sport for All" policy by catering for the keen amateur sportsperson.

Whilst we have a major role to play in the development of sport on the DCU Campus, we also cater for teams and individuals with no affiliation to Dublin City University. Under the guidance of Sydney 2000 Olympian Martina McCarthy DCU Sport High Performance has developed strong relations with a wide range of organisations and clubs from all over Ireland. Our team offers one on one and group sessions to athletes of all levels as well as a coaching consultancy service to groups and teams

For more information on services provided log on to: http://www.dcu.ie/dcusport/high_performance.shtml Find DCU Sport on Facebook or phone 01 700 5797

Stretching

  • Why? To maintain or improve joint flexibility.
  • How? Hold stretches at a point where you can feel tension or a ‘stretch' on the muscle but don't push so far as to cause pain. Hold stretches for 30 seconds.
  • Prerequisites: 5+ minutes light aerobic activity to warm up muscles - for example walking, very slow jogging, walking up and down stairs.

Stretching the first glute muscleGlute 1

  • The glute muscle is located at the rear of the bum.
  • Standing on one foot pull opposite knee into chest.
  • Keep back straight and chin up.

This could also be done lying on your back if you find balancing challenging.

Stretching the second glute muscleGlute 2

  • A second glute muscle is located at the side of the bum.
  • Place right foot on left knee, hands behind to support with back straight.
  • Bring left knee and right foot in towards body to feel stretch at the right side of glute muscles.
  • Repeat for opposite side.


Stretching the hamstringsHamstring

  • Hamstring muscles extend from below the bum to the back of the knee.
  • Place one foot on a chair or low bench, keep leg straight and reach down to touch toes with fingers.
  • Avoid curving spine by keeping shoulders back, back straight and chin up.


Stretching the groin muscles

Groin

  • Groin muscles extend down the inside of the leg to the knee.
  • Adopt a wide stance with both feet pointing forwards.
  • Lean to one side by ‘sitting' into supporting leg and feel stretch on the inside of non-supporting leg.
  • Put hands out if you need to in order to maintain balance.

 

 

Stretching the Calf MusclesCalves

  • Calf muscles extend from the back of the knee to the back of the ankle.
  • Lying on back hold a towel or stretching rope around foot and pull in.
  • Keep leg straight.
  • Bend other leg up to help keep back flat on floor.


Stretching the quadricepsQuads

  • The Quadriceps extend from the from the hips, down the front of the leg to the knee cap.
  • Pull foot up behind close to bum to feel stretch on quad muscles.
  • Ensure you use right hand for right leg and left hand for left leg so as to avoid twisting of the knee.
  • Keep back straight and chin up.
  • If needed place hand on a wall or training partner to support.

 

Mobility

  • Why? To improve the function of the body in athletic performance
  • How? Slow steady movements with all exercises

 

What develops mobility?


Grabs

  • Place foot in a box of rice.
  • Contract muscles of the foot to ‘grab rice'.
  • This can also be done using sand or grass.
  • Here you are trying to improve the foot's feel by opening and closing the toes on something tactile.

Ball roll massage
Ball roll massage

  • Place a hard ball under foot (hockey ball, golf ball, tennis ball, marble etc.)
  • Massage the whole foot.
  • Spend 30 seconds on each of the forefoot, midfoot and heal.

Ankle Mobs

Ankle mobs

  • Place foot on a low step or preferably a ramp.
  • Rock knee over toes and back in a slow steady motion.
  • Use supporting leg to support your weight.

 

 

Hip mobility exercisesHip mobility

  • Start on all fours, hold core muscles in.
  • Lift one knee and internally rotate for 6 repetitions left and right.
  • Externally rotate for 6 repetitions left and right.

 

Walking

Start off walking at a brisk pace in Vibrams or barefoot for an initial period of 15 minutes three times per week in week 1 and 20 minutes three times per week in week 2. Walking may be done on the same day as the stretching/ mobility but it does not have to. However, it is suggested that you use the walks as a warm up for the stretching routine.

Step 2

Having spent 2 weeks learing the Stretching and Mobility exercises you can now move on to Transitioning to Barefoot Running Step 2

** Medical Disclaimer **

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This training programme is intended as a guide to the transition from shod running to barefoot running. For a comprehensive, individualised programme please contact DCU Sport High Performance Centre. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider. Mild soreness after exercise may be experienced after beginning any new exercise regime. Contact your physician or physio/ athletic therapist if the soreness does not improve after 2-3 days.

Foot strengthening

  • Why? To activate and strengthen the muscles of the feet.
  • How? Perform the following exercises at a slow and controlled tempo.
  • Prerequisites: Complete Barefoot Running Step 1

 

What excercises strengthen your feet?

Picking things up with your feet

Pick ups with feet

  • Using a sock / small towel / marbles or anything you can think of pick up item with toes, hold for 4 seconds then drop.
  • Do this from a standing position as it will improve balance on supporting leg. Use a wall or chair to help maintain balance if needed.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions with 90 seconds between repetitions.

 

Towel claws

  • Place a small to medium sized towel on the floor.
  • From a seated position use toes to ‘claw’ the towel towards you.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 4-6 repetitions with 90 seconds between repetitions.

Towel Claws Towel Claws

Safe squats

  • Use a wall/ chair/ pillar to balance and place hands at mid torso level.
  • Squat or sit as low back as you can go extending arms over head.
  • Ensure your back is straight and chin is up and try to get thighs horizontal to floor.
  • Stand up and repeat.
  • Adjust hand position to suit your own range of motion. At your lowest most point arms should be fully extended and back straight.

Safe squats Safe squats


Side lunge

  • Start with feet together, step out with right foot and ‘sit’ back into right leg.
  • Keep chin up and back straight.
  • Push off right foot to return to starting position.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 6 repetitions on right and 6 on left.

Side lunge Side lunge

  • Use a pillar or chair for support if needed.

Side lunge

Walking

Start off week 3 by walking at a brisk pace in Vibrams/ barefoot for a period of 5 minutes, followed by alternating light jogging for 1 minute, walking for 1 minute for a total of 10 minutes. Finish with 5 minutes walking. Do this three times per week.

For week 4 add 5 minutes to the jogging/ walking portion of each session making sessions 25 minutes in total. Do this three times per week.

Walking/ jogging may be done on the same day as the strengthening exercises but it does not have to. However, it is suggested that you continue to use the walks as a warm up for the stretching routine.

 

Advancing to Step 3


Once you have completed Barefoot Running Steps 1 & 2 you can move on to Barefoot Running Step 3.


** Medical Disclaimer **

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This training programme is intended as a guide to the transition from shod running to barefoot running. For a comprehensive, individualised programme please contact DCU Sport High Performance Centre. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider. Mild soreness after exercise may be experienced after beginning any new exercise regime. Contact your physician or physio/ athletic therapist if the soreness does not improve after 2-3 days.

Walks

What? Primal movement patterns.

Complete these movements for a distance of 15 metres, walk back to the start and repeat for a total of 3 reps per movement. For lateral movements, complete facing both directions.

Key points:

  • Good posture (chin up, shoulders back, back straight)
  • Slow deliberate movements
  • On squatting exercises; only sit back as far as is comfortable
  • Complete movements in the sequence below


Side skips

Crab Walks

Knee Flicks

Toe Offs

 

Walking/ Jogging

Start off week 5 by walking at a brisk pace in Vibrams/ barefoot for a period of 5 minutes, followed by alternating light jogging for 2 minute, walking for 1 minute for a total of 15 minutes. Finish with 5 minutes walking. Do this three times per week.

For week 6 add 5 minutes to the jogging/ walking portion of each session making sessions 30 minutes in total. Do this three times per week.

Walking/ jogging may be done on the same day as the strengthening exercises but it does not have to. However, it is suggested that you continue to use the walks as a warm up for the stretching routine.

Step 4

You can now move on to Transitioning to Barefoot Running Step 4



** Medical Disclaimer **

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This training programme is intended as a guide to the transition from shod running to barefoot running. For a comprehensive, individualised programme please contact DCU Sport High Performance Centre. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider. Mild soreness after exercise may be experienced after beginning any new exercise regime. Contact your physician or physio/ athletic therapist if the soreness does not improve after 2-3 days.

Walks

Walking/ Jogging

For  week 6 and 7; walk at a brisk pace in Vibrams FiveFingers / barefoot for a period of 5 minutes, followed by alternating light jogging for 3 minute, walking for 1 minute for a total of 20 minutes. Finish with 5 minutes walking. Do this three times per week.

Walking / jogging may be done on the same day as the strengthening exercises but it does not have to. However, it is suggested that you continue to use the walks as a warm up for the stretching routine.



** Medical Disclaimer **

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This training programme is intended as a guide to the transition from shod running to barefoot running. For a comprehensive, individualised programme please contact DCU Sport High Performance Centre. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider. Mild soreness after exercise may be experienced after beginning any new exercise regime. Contact your physician or physio/ athletic therapist if the soreness does not improve after 2-3 days.

Barefoot transition exercisesVibram FiveFingers familiarisation guide.

NOTE: This can all be done at the beginning of a normal run, so that it doesn't interfere with your normal schedule, just switch back into your normal shoes after you have finished the VFF part.

Week one

  • Walk around the house as much as possible (a few hours every day)
  • Easy jogging for 5 mins in the corridors at home x 3 times (or on hard surface)
  • As much walks outdoors as possible
  • Exercise sheet x 2 days (twice a week)
  • Golf Ball arch rolls to ease muscles in the bottom of your feet where needed
  • Calf stretches on the edge of a step after each 5 minute run

Week two

  • Two/Three days of very light running on grass, max 15 mins
  • Keep up week one work (golf ball/stretches) throughout the 8 weeks
  • Exercise sheet x 2 days (twice a week)
  • One day of 5 mins on concrete working on running form

Week three

    • Two day of running on grass and pavement (15 min grass, 5 mins pavement)
    • One day of running in the FiveFingers on grass – 20 mins
    • Exercise sheet x 2 days (twice a week)

Week four

      • Three days of running in the FiveFingers (1 x on grass – 25 mins, and 2x on pavement 15 mins each)
      • Exercise sheet x 2 days (twice a week)

Week 5 + 6

      • Three days of running in the FiveFingers (1 x on grass – 30 mins, and 2x on mixed surfaces 20 mins each)
      • Exercise sheet x 2 days (twice a week)

Week 7 + 8

      • Three/four days of running in the FiveFingers (2 x on grass – 40mins, and 2x on mixed surfaces 30 mins each)
      • Exercise sheet x 2 days (twice a week)

Barefoot transitioning exercise guide

Try to wear the shoes as much as possible every week, if anything becomes tight or sore

      • Ice the area
      • Foam roll and stretch as much as possible
      • Use a tennis / golf ball to ease the bottom of the feet, peronials and calf.
      • If the tightness remains, ease off from wearing the shoes for a day or two.

Key steps to remember when using the VFF's

    • Keep stride as short and busy as possible (180 steps per min).
    • Run AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE.
    • Land on the ball of the foot, and then let the heel contact the floor.
    • Keep your hips forward and back straight/head up high.
    • Don't overextend your stride.
    • Include some completely barefoot work whenever possible.

Transition

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