Barefoot Basics #5: Landing

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

It’s become fairly common knowledge among barefoot tranistioners that a shift to fore or mid foot striking is required when moving from shod to unshod running. On the whole this is true, but I’ve always found the term ‘strike’ to be a bit misleading. I prefer the term ‘landing’.

When running barefoot, the key to success is minimising the impact forces involved. Once you take off your shoes, there’s literally nothing getting between you and the road. This is a wonderful, liberating experience, but needs to be done correctly. That inch or so of padding did have its uses, afterall, even if it did encourage sloppy form.

As you run in bare feet, try to imagine your soles coming in for a landing, similar to how an airplane would. The aim is to match the speed that your foot is moving as closely to the speed that the ground is flying past you. This way, when they eventually touch, the amount of friction experienced is reduced.

This technique can be somwhat difficult to learn in practice as it’s quite subtle and there isn’t really a ‘eureka!’ moment when you get it right. The best way to learn it is to pay attention when you’re doing it wrong. There are two key signs to look out for when you haven’t quite got it right.

The first indicator is blisters. If you’re getting any blistering or hot spots on your soles, then you are doing it wrong and need to make adjustments. Blisters are caused by friction, which means that your foot is skidding a bit when you land. To fix this, try slowing down a bit and visualise your landing as each of your feet touches down.

The other indicator that you can use is thumping. When you run, you will experience a little bit of a thump each time you step. This is perfectly natural and expected, but there are degrees of thumping. If you pay close attention, you will be able to feel the shock of each step run up your feet and legs. The more you can reduce this sensation, the lighter you’ll be running, and the less strain you will put on your body.

The landing is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of barefoot running form to perfect, but once you get it, you will find yourself running smoother and faster than you ever could before.