I have heard people use these phrases when talking about good qualities of running shoes. "It really locks your foot in place." "It keeps the toes from moving around." "Has a nice firm arch. . ."
If you like those qualities, enjoy your shoes, and feel free to disagree with everything I've written in this series. To each his own.
If, on the other hand, if you want to strengthen the whole body including the foot, and you choose to do some of your runs barefoot, be prepared for your arches and your toes to get a workout they don't get in those kinds of shoes.
The human foot is awesome.
Why do we spend so much time eliminating so much of its function?
It flexes, springs, absorbs shock, returns energy to our next stride. It is an engineering marvel. If it has been allowed to atrophy, (like any other muscle) it will need some strengthening to handle the load of running.
So let's pump those piggies.
Use your toes to pick up small things. Pick up pencil erasers and put them in a can/bowl/box. Pick up a hand towel and pass it to the other foot. Clean up your kids Legos or Lincoln Logs with your feet.
Scrunch a towel. Put your feet on the towel and use your toes to pull the other end of the towel towards you. You can add weight by setting something on the end of the towel.
Barefoot strength training. Do your bodyweight squats, one legged squats, and whatever leg exercises you like barefoot.
Tap your big toe as many times as you can in 30 seconds without moving your pinky toe. Then tap your pinky toe without moving the big one.
By strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot, you will be helping the foot handle the stresses that running shoes insulate them from. If you want to run barefoot, or nearly barefoot this is a must.
See part one of this series here.
See part two of this series here.