Barefoot Training

After my ankle tendon surgery, I thought I’d never walk barefoot again.  In fact, I thought barefoot walking was bad for me and avoided it at all costs.  I even kept a pair of shoes next to my bed to put on immediately upon waking.  I believe it was said to me at some point that barefoot was not a good idea for me.

When I began reading how to strengthen my feet and ankle tendons, I was surprised to see barefoot walking as one of the recommendations.  I tried to increase the amount of time I walk in the house without any shoes and ended up with three broken toes.  Not a great plan.  Anyway, I’m not giving up on this idea and recently did some more reading about it.  Many runners advocate for shoes that have zero drop, or are closer to replicating barefoot running.   I did buy a pair of zero drop running shoes and tried using them all winter on the treadmill.  Unfortunately, when I transitioned to outside I began having pain in my ankle tendon.  This caused me to rethink my plans.

I plan to strengthen the balancing muscles in my feet and ankles in hopes of improving my running.  I realized I must transition to zero drop shoes a bit more cautiously and if you are a woman who wears heels a lot you will likely need to do the same.  I have tight Achilles tendons and poor ankle mobility, especially in my left ankle.  Running in my minimalist shoes led to overuse pain in my peroneal and achilles tendons.  Thankfully, I listened to my body and stopped immediately.  Taking a step back here is the plan to transition and strengthen my barefoot work.

Starting immediately, I will be doing all my warm up work (Silly Toes) barefoot.  This routine will be done every day, whether I am running or not.  It actually feels so good to stretch the lower legs out.

Barefoot BOSU work will strengthen balance and ankle mobility.  One leg balance routines are extremely helpful in strengthening smaller muscles in the ankles and are fun to perform on the BOSU.

Wearing my minimalist shoes for workouts other than running and even getting a pair for walking should also help strengthen my lower legs and feet.  Finally, I plan on walking barefoot whenever possible in the house but will be sure to avoid metal doors this time!

Are you a runner who uses zero drop, or barefoot shoes?  How did you transition?How has it improved your running form?  Please do share as I am interested in learning.

BOSU Ball

Weakest Link

A consultant I work with professionally has stated, “As a District, you’re only as good as your weakest school.”  Clearly, his philosophy aligns with mine in that he’s saying we are meant to lift others up, rather than leaving them to struggle.    During my morning run I reflected on this as I thought about my body.  Surely this thinking could also somehow apply to my physical wellness.  Therefore, I began to think about how I am only as strong of a runner as my weakest link.

What are the weakest links in our bodies and how does leaving them to struggle impact our mindset?  I can tell you these weak links can have a huge impact on they physical body and the mindset.  Pain is never welcome in our training plans.  The constant struggle with it invites those negative voices to start yelling inside.  You’re never getting past this, you’ll always get hurt, blah, blah, blah.  Ignoring the problem clearly hasn’t worked for me.  Being proactive and wearing certain shoes has helped somewhat, but not enough to eliminate the struggle.  Warm up and rolling has also helped, but still I’m experiencing some swelling.  This leaves me thinking that it is indeed about strengthening that weak link – lifting it up to join the party.

This connection really helped me focus today as I’ve been experiencing pain and swelling in my ankle near the site of my peroneal tendon.  I’ve been getting super nervous about it too.   Thinking about the weakest link theory, I spent the morning researching ways to strengthen my weakest tendon.  Yes, I’ve been rolling and stretching after runs, but I’ve done little targeted strength training for this tendon.  As I sit her soaking my ankle in Epsom salt post run, I’m excited about the new plans.

I found some cool exercises on Youtube that are perfect for me.  They involve my foam roller, bands and Bosu. These are all tools I have in the house so I was able to get right to work today!  It’s amazing how having a plan has already lifted my spirits.  I’m feeling hopeful that I will get this in control and not reinjure the tendon.  I ran a little faster today and lighter.  Here’s my current plans for my ankles and feet.   If you are suffering with any issues, feel free to join the party.  I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

Warm-Up

I’ve been doing the Silly Toes warm up for over a year now.  It most definitely helps me stay healthy in my feet and ankles.  It’s super quick and fun.  I never skip the warm-up no matter how late I am getting out.  My new addition is to do this every single day, whether I am running or not.  A quick way to start the day off right.  Here’s my running coach demonstrating it beautifully.

 

Strength Training

I plan to incorporate strength exercises daily. They are super quick and can be done before bed, or after a run. I can even do them in my office if need be. For the resistance band section, I put both feet in my resistance band (red).

 

Post Run

I’m adding this to my rolling sessions after each run. I already shared my rolling protocols for my feet/ankles, but definitely will be adding this. I already did it today.

 

Stretching

Three times a week, if not more, I can do these stretches. I already tried them today.

 

In addition to all of this, I currently do try to do yoga toes pose after each run.  I can try to up this to days I don’t run as well.  It is quite an intense pose, but one I’ve come to love.  I guess what doesn’t kill me does indeed make me stronger.

 

What’s your weakest link?  Can you create a plan today to strengthen and lift yourself up?Please share below if you’ve already done so, or plan to start.

Resources Used in My Routines

Training Tip – KT Tape

KT Tape is an elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  I fell in love with KT Tape following my ankle surgery.  I absolutely swear by it and use it for any run over 5 miles, or any race I run.  It feels like my armor, or protection, which takes my mind off my ankle.

I remember when I first started seeing sports tape on athletes in the summer Olympics in 2008.  I was obsessed with beach volleyball that year and remember seeing it and thinking it made the girls look like such bad asses.  The colorful tape was all the rage that year and I wondered what it was for beyond a fashion statement.  Until I needed it, I never really looked into it.  This tape is thought to reduce pain and injury when applied correctly.  The goal is to support the muscles and tendons and aid in the flow of fluids around the area.  It is also thought to help stop ankles from rolling, but I don’t bank on that and am super careful about the terrain I run on.  It may be all in my head, but I feel more confident about my ankle when I wear it and that is well worth the price and time to apply.

Application of the tape can be tricky at first.  I actually went to a vendor at the expo prior to my half to get it applied properly.  They taught me a few tricks I didn’t know, like how to put compression socks on over the tape without ruining it.  They also told me you can leave the tape on for a few days at a time, even showering with it on, which would save some money I guess.  I don’t leave it on as I’d look mighty funny in my work attire and KT tape designs.

If you have any areas that you are concerned about, or experience discomfort in, I highly recommend you check out KT Tape.  It may just be the tip you’re looking for.  There are so many options to choose from when looking.  I like the KT Tape brand and go for the funky colors to keep it interesting.  I recommend you google some videos on Youtube to learn how to put it on correctly.  This is an important step.  Here’s a sample video of how to tape your peroneal tendon, a common running tendon injury.

If you have a Physical Therapist you are working with, ask her to teach you how to correctly apply the tape.  It is well worth learning proper technique to ensure you are getting the benefits from using.

Let me know if you are a fan, like me, of this tape.  Please leave a comment in the section below.

Here’s the information on the tape I use:

KT TAPE Original Cotton Elastic Kinesiology Theraeputic Tape – 20 Pre-Cut 10″ Strips, Blue

It is absolutely worth buying the precut strips.

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