In most cases, when heel strike runners switch to forefoot running and wear minimalist shoes or run barefoot, their feet are weak and need to be strengthened. Particularly, there are many foot exercises a runner can do to avoid plantar fasciitis, a common injury among new forefoot-barefoot or-minimalist runners.
Foot Exercises for the Plantar Fascia
Another way forefoot running learners can prevent plantar fasciitis is by avoiding toe-push off to initiate flight. Using the forefoot and toes to propel the mass of the body when running may hyper-extend the plantar fascia.
To break the habit of toe push-off when running, follow the Pose Method of Running, which recommends pulling the foot up using the hamstrings, instead of pushing your body with your forefoot.
Other factors that cause plantar pain:
- occupations involving prolonged standing such as teaching, construction work, and cooks are at high risk of plantar fasica pain
- poor biomechanics and over-training
- repetitive stress that exceeds recovery, leading to degenerative changes in the plantar fascia
Another great strengthening exercise for plantar fasciitis is walking barefoot, or in barefoot-inspired footwear as much as you can, especially on uneven terrain. Discomfort may arise, but relax your feet and walk as normal as possible. Your feet will adapt very quickly!
- the increased sensory input activates reflexes in the foot, which in turn, strengthens soft tissue and the plantar fascia
The plantar fascia is a very strong structure of the foot, walking barefoot while the plantar fascia is inflamed, wont kill you, nor will it exacerbate the condition.
Simply, walk barefoot on grass at a comfortable pace for 20 minutes, trying to maintain your natural walking gait, no limping, or favoring the other foot.
Do the best you can, the pain will be gone before you know it. Being patient is key, and DO these exercises daily. If you don’t do them, you will get injured and will be referred to a physiotherapist where you’ll end up doing the same exercises anyway!
More From Run Forefoot:
Why Older Runners Need to Wear Minimalist Shoes – Find out how minimalist running shoes prevent age-related biomechanical impairments in older runners.
The Cause of ITBS – Understand how running shoes that are stiff and inflexible increases a runner’s risk of ITBS.
Expensive Shoes Doesn’t Mean More Protection – A study found that cheaper running shoes were linked to less injury rates than pricier ones.
Protecting Your Joints – Discover how the best joint protection technique for running is to avoid heel strike.
Born to Run…Forefoot? Here I talk about why humans are anatomically suited for forefoot running, and not heel strike running.
Are Heel Strikers Slower? Here I uncover the 2 main reasons that may slow a heel striker down.
The Neuroscience of Running….Barefoot – An overview of how barefoot running boosts motor coordination patterns in the brain, helping you run with better mechanics.
Shoes for Forefoot Strikers – Read about the barefoot-inspired running shoes that help avoid heel strike.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.