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Running Barefoot Without Damaging Your Feet


When many runners, joggers, and athletes swap out their shoes for running barefoot, they realize that exposing their feet to the elements increases their risk for foot damage. There are ways however to minimize foot damage when running barefoot.

One sign of foot damage when running barefoot is a burn sensation in the sole of the foot. This is different from a burn from feeling on the skin from running on a hot surface. This is usually caused by running too long of a distance when starting out.

“This is a sign you may need to rethink your routine”, says Tellman Knudson, barefoot runner and founder of He continues, “Try cutting your time down to 5 or 10 minutes and see how your soles feel afterwards.”

A strategy many new barefoot runners use is to start with a few minutes of barefoot running, then completing their run with sneakers. As they progress they increase the amount of time without sneakers.

Another sign of foot damage caused by running barefoot is foot swelling and internal foot pain. This is another sign that runners are running barefoot too much and may want to consider cutting down the amount of time they run barefoot.
Runners can soak their feet in a foot ice bath after each run to minimize and treat swelling.

Knudson summarizes, “Again, start off slowly, and increase your barefoot routine gradually to avoid severe pain and swelling. It may be hard to slow yourself down, but it will pay off when you don’t have to take several days off for foot recovery.”

Download the Fire and Ice Barefoot Runner’s Survival Guide at


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