On the topic of transitioning to barefoot/minimalist. I sent an email reply to a friend that's more detailed, so thought I'd share it here too:
There are lots of things you can/should do imo ...
* Standing barefoot on a Bosu ball is great...1 leg or 2 legs at a time, doing any number of exercises...I've watched tv, read books, done paperwork etc. I leg at at time drills without the ball are great too.
* Be barefoot as often as possible inside to learn how to always be alert about what your feet are doing...and what they are not crashing into...
* I do the Chi Loosening drills and Chi Post Run stretches barefoot nearly always. Virtually every morning, generally first thing, I do the loosening drills from pg. 99+ from Chi Running. I've found post run stretches seem to keep me from getting injuries and leg cramps.
* Pete Egoscue"s daily maintenance program of "e-cises" is excellent from his book "Pain Free" ... I try to do them daily, but minimally 3 or 4 times per week. These help establish/maintain proper muscle balance. I use the foot stretches as well from the pain recovery ecises, in addition to the foot ecises.
* Roll your feet on top of a golf ball...the more often, the better. Side to side, front to back, etc. Dig deep into the Plantar muscles...ideally first thing in the morning to "tune up" the feet and allegedly help the fascia up into the upper legs etc.
* Run gently barefoot on a smooth hard surface, while trying to perfect light, smooth, easy natural running technique... 90 foot contacts per minute per foot cadence...same cadence on any grade. Briefly run backwards, then freeze...genearally it's near impossible to run with lame form backwards, so memorize that posture, lean forward slightly from the ankles and carry that posture forward.
* Get "The Bob" Calfmaster, use it daily, barefoot. Each direction you can do three different angles. Strengthen feet and ankles.
* I believe tension in the low back and on down into the hamstrings etc will affect the plantar muscles. Keep them all as healthy as possible.
* When using a treadmill, wear thin socks only, and run into an incline of varying steepness.
* I have Merrell Leather trail gloves...but I wear them to church etc...haven't run in them yet. 99% of my miles this year have been barefoot or in huaraches.
* Shop New Balance, zero drop/intermediate distance xc flats in one size WIDER than you think you need and a good half inch longer than your foot.
(My wife) has two new pair...the Minimus Zero drop ladies 2E and a Men's 8.5 (1.5 size smaller than Ladies) NB 700.
* By far the best "barefoot" for me has been the huaraches. So low cost it's not worth making your own. I know I'll save hundreds or thousands of dollars using these longer term, but you have to invest some time into customizing them, breaking yourself into them and figuring how you prefer lacing/tie methods. Get some "running" sandals! http://www.InvisibleShoe.com/go/Randy_Kreill
I've been suggesting people get two pair (4MM kit and 6MM kit) and extra laces are good idea. Meg's wearing hers more and more...I'm wearing mine more and more as well. I initially didn't like running in the 6MM, but now I've punched dozens of holes into my 6MM's to make them even lighter and found a tie method that works better for walking or running. I've done a marathon, (2) 32 milers, and 2 training outings of of 50K+, all in the 4MM sandals this year.
* Huraches best simulate barefoot...I've tried about everything. Best to have the foot unwrapped imo. The outsole floats underfoot. Also, the design prompts the runner to turn feet over quicker and pick up properly every step. When Meg, my wife, ran about half the last 50K with me, she tripped and fell hard, while she was worried about me busting a toe. With practice I've noticed my feet automatically dance around obstacle while my eyes are focused a few feet ahead of the feet...but, with proper pick up, even if I step in a less desirable spot, with a shorter stride, I've got control of my stride and automatically pick up and away from the problem, rather than tumbling over something. The outsole near the smaller toes will roll underfoot when the user gets lazy and shuffles the feet. Knock on wood...I've seen so many people fall on trail race course, but I've not, yet. This same concept has to be the reason I ran the John Bryan Tie Dye 32 miler in huaraches and felt the best ever at that distance...no lazy posture/form....that was in spite of having a fever break that same night and having our kids get "strep" right afterward.
* Transition slowly. I use Burt's Bees hand salve on my feet, and coconut foot oil, etc. For longer runs, I'll apply and reapply these products to keep toes and the ball of the foot from rubbing too much on the "outsole".
* Find a safe place to run barefoot in mostly grass. I use the local soccer complex...roughly a mile around. This is barefoot running's equivalent to eating desert.
* While relaxed at home, watching tv or whatever, get into a habit of massaging your feet. You'll learn to find soreness you might not notice otherwise. You learn to know when to push harder and when to back off based on hotspots you find in the feet and ankles. During transition, top of the foot pain is common over the metatarsels...I got past that late this past Winter. Also, a blister/hard spot may develop under the 2nd largest toe area...pretty normal I think. It seems like my arches have improved, while the top part of the foot near the ankle has thickened. Older shoes feel tighter now. Of course, in huaraches you don't have to worry about muscles bulking up in the feet, or late run/late day swelling either. Huaraches are super cheap and solve many issues, it's just not something you are likely to master overnight. I think most people mindlessly wear shoes, thinking they have it right, yet they run a marathon and get blisters, foot pain, lose toe nails or worse...so the time invested in huaraches is well invested, not just financially in shoe costs. The might even save a hip or knee replacement long long term!
Hope that helps...I'll probably think of more later,