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  1. #1
    SonyaJane's Avatar
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    Barefoot Walking

    I have recently started wearing water shoes so that I can simulate barefoot walking and I'm planning to buy some VFFs and make my own Huaraches (if I can find the materials in the UK, which is proving to be difficult so far).

    I am confused as to how we are supposed to walk barefoot as I have read conflicting arguments, and I cannot find any videos showing the technique (I can only find videos on barefoot running). Are we supposed to land on the front of our feet as we do when we run barefoot? Or land on our heels? I naturally land on the front of my foot when I run barefoot but on my heel when I walk barefoot. Should I make an effort to change the latter? I did try walking landing on the front but it was exhausting, but I prepared to practise if it is a better technique and will avoid injury.

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    Al_Kavadlo's Avatar
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    I think you should walk heel-to-toe. Walking involves far less impact than running, since you always have at least one foot on the ground, so the heel striking thing shouldn't be an issue. Really just do whatever is comfortable and try not to over-think it. No offense, but there is something funny about a grown up posting on a forum to ask how to walk. You see the humor in it, right?
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonyaJane View Post
    I naturally land on the front of my foot when I run barefoot but on my heel when I walk barefoot. Should I make an effort to change the latter? I did try walking landing on the front but it was exhausting, but I prepared to practise if it is a better technique and will avoid injury.
    you should try landing on the front of the foot. basically, walking and running barefoot are the same thing at different speeds.

    you should also expect to work a little harder walking like that. you'll be using all the muscles you haven't been using with more conventional shoes. don't worry though...you'll get used to it.

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    In Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run--he sort of got this whole barefoot thing popular--he talks about how the pad of the foot should hit first, before the heel, which is what small children do naturally. You can get more here: http://sites.jabyte.com/tech/recommend/barefoot
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    Al_Kavadlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by primalrob View Post
    you should try landing on the front of the foot. basically, walking and running barefoot are the same thing at different speeds.
    I disagree.

    But I'm starting to think I'd be better off just reading this thread and not posting in it from here on in...
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

    "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
    I disagree.

    But I'm starting to think I'd be better off just reading this thread and not posting in it from here on in...
    Al, I don't think the matter is closed just because of McDougall. I got the book, tried with the VFFs, but I can't seem to do anything but heel to toe, which I chalked up to thirty years of hard walking in that manner. I use the VFFs around home, lawn, but I can't walk long distances without serious heel pain, so went to light trainers. Barefoot is right out. Again, I'm sure some conditioning is in play, as well.
    This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
    I disagree.

    But I'm starting to think I'd be better off just reading this thread and not posting in it from here on in...
    admittedly, my knowledge is purely anecdotal...i don't really know a whole lot about this. but i know that when i'm walking a lot, particularly on a harder surface, i get more comfort and ease landing on the front of my foot. coming out of a run, i found that my feet were landing the same way, which may or may not be correct. on a short stroll to a colleague's office or getting something out of my car, however, i noticed that i do land heel first sometimes. so maybe i do have a natural difference between walking and running when i'm not focusing on how i step

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    Quote Originally Posted by primalrob View Post
    admittedly, my knowledge is purely anecdotal...i don't really know a whole lot about this. but i know that when i'm walking a lot, particularly on a harder surface, i get more comfort and ease landing on the front of my foot. coming out of a run, i found that my feet were landing the same way, which may or may not be correct. on a short stroll to a colleague's office or getting something out of my car, however, i noticed that i do land heel first sometimes. so maybe i do have a natural difference between walking and running when i'm not focusing on how i step
    One of the links posted above said something along the lines of this: still land on your heel but gently and put most of the "weight" of each step on your forefoot.

    That makes sense to me. Been curious about this myself as the postman just delivered my KSOs today and I'm looking forward to starting the adjustment process with some walking around my neighborhood.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
    I disagree.

    But I'm starting to think I'd be better off just reading this thread and not posting in it from here on in...
    I'm in complete agreement with your disagreement.

    Walking and running are not biomechanically equivalent. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure this out through a literature review or the empirical approach.

    Of course, you can walk on the balls of your feet, and should...if you happen to enjoy looking like a doofus while moving inefficiently.

    PS: I'm embarrassed to mention how I came to my conclusions, and would appreciate it if you didn't ask.

  10. #10
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    The most efficient walking gait uses a heel strike. A gentle one, though, not the hard bang down on the corner of the heel that you get in heeled shoes. After I lost the shoes I spent two years landing on my forefoot while walking. You can do it, but it's not nearly as efficient. If you look at energy storage/return mechanisms, it's not how we evolved to walk, either.

    http://barefootrunning.fas.harvard.e...tionofHomo.pdf

    Look at figure 1. If you're an engineer or physicist, you're done. Otherwise you'll need to read the text, too.

    Now I only land on my forefoot when running or when the ground is really rough. My speed and efficiency walking have improved as measured against my wife, who hasn't changed a thing about her footwear or walking technique.

    Gordo

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