Oh, how I love training barefoot! And that is because I mainly work out at home so I don’t need to put on some shoes, it takes too much effort… But that is not entirely true: I find myself really preferring exercising barefoot because it feels so good and somehow it brings me a sense of freedom. That is how I’ve come to wonder whether it was actually OK to go barefoot. Are there any real advantages of working out shoeless after all?
To my big surprise, after doing some research on this subject, I’ve discovered how SUPER beneficial barefoot training is! Read on…
Why Should You Train Barefoot?
Our feet are amazing! They are the base of support for our entire body. They have over 100 ligaments and tendons, more than 30 joints, 26 bones, and 29 different muscles working all together to provide support, balance, and mobility. That is why it is important for your feet to be strong to do their job effectively.
Barefoot workouts activate and strengthen all the stabilizing muscles in your feet as well as your calf, glutes, and core muscles.
Furthermore, shoes can place abnormal strain on the neck, spine, and knees which over time can trigger knee or back pain.
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Here are 10 SUPER Benefits of Training Barefoot
- Stronger feet and ankles
Our feet fight to keep us upright. Wearing shoes makes the feet and ankles lazy because they provide a lot of support and stability whereas going barefoot forces the muscles of the foot to work harder.
- Better training performance
It is evident that stronger feet enhance your overall workout performance. Add to this that doing without shoes not only activates the muscles in your feet but also your calves, glutes, and core.
Plus, the big toe plays an important role in right forward propulsion and shock absorption. That is why it needs to be stable and properly aligned with both the joints and soft tissue that surround it. This demands good joint mobility.
- Keeps the toes aligned
Being barefoot lets the feet expand freely and more naturally, thus causing the toes to align correctly.
Individuals that have been barefoot almost all their lives (habitually barefoot) seem to have wider feet, as well as fewer foot and toe deformities.
- Joint flexibility
By forcing the muscles and joints to work harder, skipping your sneakers keeps your joints mobile.
Read here the related article “how to get more flexible: best 6 tips!”
- Increased proprioception
The bottom of the feet has thousands of nerve endings with highly sensitive receptors called proprioceptors. Barefoot movement not only helps you feel the ground but also sends feedback to your brain about your body position and alignment. Exercising with heavy sneakers blocks floor-foot-brain sensory stimulation which helps us connect to our surroundings. In other words, those signals are essential to having a better understanding of how our body moves in space.
- Improved balance
Feeling our feet on the floor develops our natural movements and thus helps us find a proper balance.
- Enhanced stability
The more information about your environment your brain receives from your feet, the more stable and balanced you get.
- Correct body alignment
Barefooted activities allow for greater control over our feet’s position as they hit the ground. The stability in the ligaments is improved. As a consequence, our knees, hips, and core nicely align.
Read here the related article “16 good posture health benefits that are so important!”.
- Lowers the risk of physical injuries
Our shoes can be too tight, or too big and it’s never the perfect fit. Any little wrong weight distribution can badly affect your knee joints and spine. Staying barefoot forces the body to align well. The feet gain agility and stability which lowers the risk of injuries such as hip problems, knee, and back pain.
- Increases our wellbeing
Why do I feel so good when I walk around barefoot? Earthing is this exchange of energy between the earth and our body. Our bare feet connecting to the earth’s surface electrons allow the release of all the stress and fatigue we can accumulate. In return, the earth’s beneficial energy is charged through our feet, increasing our well-being.
Some research shows that earthing or grounding “may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.”
WOW! That’s awesome news!!
What Are The Risks Of Training Barefoot?
Training barefoot doesn’t come without any risks, so it is important to mention them.
- Twisting your ankle or falling because of imbalance (mainly when you just start out).
- Stepping on sharp objects.
- Dropping a dumbbell or other weight gear on your feet.
- Stepping on something filthy (especially if you exercise outside).
Apart from those obvious drawbacks, you can train barefoot for almost any type of exercise. You just need to make sure that there are no sharp objects on the floor, be super careful and focused when lifting some weight, and be more mindful of your landing when you jump.
Of course, you probably will want to keep your shoes on if you are going for a run on the street or at the gym. You can then warm up barefoot to bring the earth-foot-brain connection and opt for some minimalist shoes.
How To Start Working Out Barefoot?
Like any transition, it is essential to start one step at a time. Don’t skip your sneakers and exercise barefoot right away. Your feet need some time to adapt to the change. Here are some recommendations.
- Walk around your home, yard, and beach barefoot and feel the different grounds.
- Do your warm-ups barefoot, rolling your feet with a tennis ball for about 10 minutes.
- Do some yoga, pilates, or barre workouts that don’t require lifting heavy objects or harsh jumping.
- Avoid working out on the uneven ground. It increases your chances of getting injured.
Wear some grip socks if, at first, you don’t like the feeling of being barefoot.
Consult with your doctor prior to starting any barefoot exercises when you suffer from diabetes, arthritis or any foot conditions.
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When you look at human evolutionary history, standing barefoot is the most natural thing to do. Our bodies, over time, have adapted to wearing shoes. However, it has affected the way we walk, leading to physical problems and foot malformations.
It does make sense that the barefoot lifestyle is best for us. More and more sportspeople, informed of its benefits, are now practicing without shoes.
What about you? Will you now consider training sans sneakers?
Leave your questions and comments below!!
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