How to Improve Barefoot Running Technique – Balancing the Feet

Here are some Techniques that you can use to help balance the positioning of your feet for your barefoot running.

Barefoot running can have a great reward if it is instituted correctly through proper integration.

The techniques in this video will act as a puzzle piece to help bring your running into a fuller integrated efficiency.

Transcript:

Hello, this is Naudi Aguilar of Functional Patterns. For today’s video, I’m going to be showing you guys some techniques to help improve your barefoot running. Barefoot running has been all the craze with a lot of the progressives in the industry, and there’s a lot of validity for why you should do some type of barefoot running, specifically because it aligns directly with our human biology. As we know, humans have been adapting over the course of millions of years, and running barefoot has been something that we’ve done for quite some time. So catering our mechanics towards that will be absolutely essential if we expect to find any kind of balance within our body.

So today, what I’m going to be showing you guys are some specific techniques that are going to help you balance your foot. I know many people out there who have bought some kind of a barefoot runner, like a Vibram’s FiveFingers or some of those Evo shoes. And there’s been some people complaining saying they can actually create more injuries than actual benefit. And the main problem I have with people who make those kinds of assumptions is that they don’t tend to look at that you can’t just transition from dysfunction in terms of body mechanics, in terms of your posture, and then transition directly into something as functional as running.

There has to be some kind of transitional territory that somebody has to approach before they go into any kind of a barefoot running style. So before you go into that element, if you are thinking about that or if you already are, we have to specifically think that if we are not focusing on engaging our entire musculature through our entire body, like the transverse abdominis, it’s likely there could be some foot compensations, there could be some knee compensations, and then later on down the road we could end up having some major problems.

So the main thing we’re going to address today is ankle supination. This is an issue that tends to happen very commonly with people whenever they go into their running style. What I’ve found is that as I … I’ll go to this wall here. I have a corrective exercise I call that I’ll be showing you guys later on down the road. Whenever I have somebody go to the balls of their feet, typically what you’ll tend to find, it’s kind of like an ankle supination. As soon as they get to the balls of their feet, they’ll kind of begin to bend outward at their achilles tendon as soon as they land.

This has been present in many of the fighters that I’ve trained, as well. Fighters who have a very tough time with staying on their toes, typically what they’ll do is they’ll end up going here and then let their ankles kind of supinate out like that. You can kind of see that bend in the achilles tendon. When they get that way and they try fighting on their toes, it usually stumps them, because it becomes very uncomfortable to stand on your feet like that. So really, what orients that tension specifically are going to be the muscles on the medial portion of your tibia. You’re going to have the tibialis posterior around there, the flexor hallucis longus. Those muscles right there are actually going to act to supinate the foot in this direction.

So if all these muscles here are very, very tight, it’s quite likely you’re going to tend to have that ankle supination. Now, why is that important when you’re going through your gait cycle? Well, if you’re going to land on your foot at the point of impact, when you’re having a barefoot running style that’s catered more towards the ball of your foot rather than heel striking. When you land, if your ankle’s landing like this, I assure you that on impact, that’s not going to be advantageous over the course of the long term, and even in the short term. You’re going to end up creating a lot of damaging effects just by landing your foot like that.

So keeping that foot completely neutral, you’ll see as if I was to run, if I was to go back and forth, the neutral position of that foot is going to be crucial. Just think of it this way, that if I’m going to spring off my calves, they should go completely upright like so. They should not go as I come upward. All that energy’s going to drift laterally. Whenever we’re moving forward, the legs should typically move with the sagittal plane. And if you’re trying to move with the sagittal plane and you start getting lateral articulations when you’re trying to move forward and back with your legs, there’s going to be a whole heap of problems that’ll come later on down the road. Injuries, but even beyond that, you’re going to get very, very inefficient biomechanics to your body, and your performance is going to suffer significantly.

So the techniques, the tools that we’re actually going to use first, are going to be some Chinese cups. We’re going to use this to kind of release some of the fascias to deliver some blood flow into those muscles that we’re going to try and release right now. From there, we’re going to move on into a technique to release those muscles, in terms of myofascial release via the usage of a Thera Cane. After that, we’re going to transition. You’ll need a chair or something, a bench, something to sit on, and then we’re going to utilize the myofascial release technique one more time specifically for your plantar fascia.

So we’re going to go into this right now. So for starters, what I want you guys to do, you’ll probably just need to get yourself a Chinese cup kit. You can find these on Amazon. They’re about 20 bucks, 25 bucks. They’re very cheap. These actually run on a pump, traditional Chinese cups. You usually light them up with some kind of a match, with some kind of fire. It tends to become a little bit more of process. You can get the same effect with these Chinese cups right here. You’ll probably actually need some oil as well.

This is all I have available right now. Typically, I would use coconut oil. I usually do this stuff at home whenever I do use my Chinese cups, and typically, I would use some kind of a coconut oil if I was to get really, really nitpicky on that. But right here, I have some body oil that somebody left around here. So we’re just going to use that. So really to start, what I’m going to try and do is actually apply oil right here. What this is going to do is it’ll help us set up some kind of a vacuum seal here. Sometimes when your skin gets very, very dry, the cups will tend to slip off.

And so, just putting a little bit of oil on there can make it to where there’s a little bit more for the cups to actually stick to and then the cups won’t come off quite so easily. So really all we’re going to do is just take this little pump here and just insert it into the Chinese cup from there. You put it right here on the medial border of the tibia and hit that musculature there. I go there, give it a few pumps. You don’t have to go too crazy with it. Put very, very little pressure. At first, if you get more advanced and you start feeling like your body can take more of it, I usually max out the air.

For me, I’ll typically max the air out, or I’d usually pump it until the point where my skin comes completely up as high as I can. I’ll put the other sucker on here, and I’ll kind of just lay right here on my side and turn my body over just so I can expose those fibers. Typically, this is going to be pretty painful for most people because we’re taking areas that are very, very dense. What I found out on most people, whenever they put some kind of a Chinese cup here in the manner that I just did, it tends to be very, very shocking because this is an area that doesn’t necessarily get a lot of release. It’s rarely you’ll ever find anybody any kind of manual release therapist that will put a lot of focus right here onto this medial border of the calf.

But I assure you this specific area is one of the main limiters of having good footwork if you’re an athlete, but specifically, if you’re trying to improve your barefoot running, this is what’s going to put that ankle back into a neutral position so you can really get that dynamic dorsiflexion when you’re running straight forward. So I would just leave that on myself personally. I usually keep it on for about five to 10 minutes. Bare minimum, I’ll just usually let them on there. If I really want to be mean to myself, I’ll actually slide them across, and usually that will burn pretty bad if I do that. That’s a little bit extreme.

You may not want to do that initially if you’re not used to this kind of stuff. Usually, just kind of going across, that by itself can do a lot of manipulation to the fascia. Be very careful. It’s easy to overdo this kind of stuff, so just don’t go too crazy with it right off the bat. Work your way up when you’re doing it. Anyway, let’s say we’ve done that for about five to 10 minutes. We take these suckers off. Immediately now, I’ve actually delivered blood flow to this region of the body. You’ll see that it’s a little bit red in there. Now, we diverted blood flow directly into this area.

From there, what I’ll do is come down. I’ll grab my Thera Cane. Almost grab it like if it was a gun, like I was going to shoot somebody with it. From there, I’m going to come down in this position here, and I’m going to just start slowly sliding this sucker all the way across. That oil is actually serving as a very, very beneficial … Almost like a beneficial fluid that kind of make this thing more slippery. So when I can go across, I can strip the muscles that I’m going across. That stuff is pretty crazy. So what I’ll just do in there is I’ll apply pressure using the weight of my body to go in here. Then this right hand right here is just kind of allowing me to control the pressure while I’m here.

You can do some active release, but typically what I like to do is actually just get into the fascia by itself. I don’t consider myself so much with moving the ankles around. I’d rather just actually break up the fascia more. So if anything, I’d say for right now, if you’re just starting out, I would focus more on just trying to break this stuff up, this fascia layer up. Keep in mind, the longer some kind of a fascia restriction’s been in a certain part of your body, typically the harder it’s going to be to break through. So there’s going to be several different layers.

For me, specifically, this region right here, it tends to be very, very dense because I still tend to supinate quite a bit. Whenever I go into my gait cycle, anytime I throw a punch, whatever it may be, I still involve myself a little bit in that supination. So this area will be pretty dense. It may take a while for you to actually break that stuff up completely. The next technique we’re going to go into really is just going to involve us sitting down right here on this bench. Pretty simple, nothing crazy about it. I’m going to put my foot on top of this side and my other one. Obviously, the one getting the work here is going to be my left foot.

We’re going to work into directly the plantar fascia, which is the final point in which that flexor hallucis longus is going to go into. It goes directly right into that big toe. So really, what you want to do is just pretty much break up the entire plantar fascia in that region. This should probably hurt quite a bit, especially if you’re not used to getting in here like this. Some of the residual oil is still on that Thera Cane, so it’s going to make the foot a little bit more slippery, which is kind of a good thing if you can slide that Thera Cane down enough through there. Really stripping those fibers is going to be advantageous for us in this specific scenario.

All right. Those are three techniques that you can use to help improve your barefoot running dynamics. Like I mentioned prior, barefoot running can be good only if we have prepared the body to do so in the first place. If your body is structurally off, you can’t expect to come from a stationary environment where you’re sitting at a desk all day long and then ultimately come to the point where you’re going to do something as functional as running and expect to do it well. Like anything else, like all biological organisms, we adapt in accordance to a specific environment. If we are adapting into the environment of sitting down, I mean our body is already programmed to do that.

It’s quite likely that when we go into running, the brain’s going to assume that all the stressors we had when we were sitting down are going to be the ones that we should relate to when we’re moving in real life. So be sure that you incorporate anything you can, before you go into some a barefoot running platform that you should incorporate anything you can to try to structurally integrate your body with good posture, good alignment, and learning how to rotate your trunk so that way you can actually get better drive on your step. And then beyond that, so that way, the joints on the body don’t take so much abrasion.

We have to assume that if we are involving a lot of disconnection in the body, it’s quite likely the ligaments of our body, the joints in our body are going to take the load, and really, what your muscles are here to do is act as a mechanism to soften the landing on everything that you do. So when you run, your body should be spring-loaded with this musculature. I do hope that you guys found this video to be informative. If you did, please click like. I work very hard to put these videos up, and any help on your end is always appreciated on my end.

You can also visit functionalpatterns.com and look at the entire Functional Patterns philosophy and see how it relates to your body, and really, how it relates to your barefoot running mechanics if you are a barefoot running enthusiast. Until next time, this is Naudi Aguilar reminding you to live intentionally and not habitually.

2018-07-12T11:40:41+00:00

2 Comments

  1. Karen Peterson June 24, 2014 at 5:04 am - Reply

    Thanks Naudi! As always, important info to give people insight and depth to make a healthy transition. A couple of things…I’ve studied and practiced Chinese Medicine as a Shiatsu practitioner for almost thirty years, and right above the inner ankle is a point called the “triple yin crossing”. We were always told not to work that point too much for women who are pregnant, as it stimulates downward movement of energy i.e. birth! Also, since the meridians on the inner leg are “yin” and the energy flows naturally upward (seems to contradict what I just said) working the theracane in a movement that goes from ankle towards the knee might be more in harmony with that flow…that’s the direction we move up the inner leg when giving a shiatsu treatment. Thanks again for sharing not only great info, but your great spirit too!

  2. Bill Hrncir March 7, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Hey Naudi!
    I like your barefoot running video. 2 Thumbs up!
    Bill Hrncir

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