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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Preparing the Feet for Barefoot Running

Jun 01, 2011 08:16AM ● By Robert Mirandola


Many individuals who want to begin barefoot or minimalist running are fearful that it will make them more prone to injury. However, a study conducted by Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman and his colleagues at Harvard University concluded that barefoot runners, who typically land on the balls or middle of their feet, rather than the heels, experience much less impact than shod runners, reducing chances of impact-related, repetitive-stress injuries to the feet and ankle joints.
The following three exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles and arches of the feet and help prevent injuries.
Towel crunches
This exercise strengthens the foot’s tiny muscles known as the interossei and lumbricals. Spread a towel on a smooth surface. With one foot atop the towel, scrunch it up with the toes. Do this 10 times, take a 30-second break and repeat, to complete three sets of 10.
Resistance band inner foot strengthening
This targets the foot’s innermost muscles, the posterior tibial muscle and abductor halluces, that when weak, cause over-pronation and flat feet. Tie a resistance band on the leg of a chair, and then press the inner foot against the band. Moving only the ankle, not the leg, pull the band toward the midline of the body. Hold for 10 seconds, and then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Resistance band outer foot strengthening
This targets the outermost, or peroneal, foot muscles. Using a resistance band tied to a chair leg, press the outside of the foot into the band. With the outer muscles of the foot, push the band away from the midline of the body, again moving the ankle instead of the leg. Hold for 10 seconds, and then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Dr. Robert Mirandola is a minimalist runner, family chiropractor and the owner of Allasso Chiropractic, in Newton. He specializes in helping competitive and recreational athletes. Learn more at