Barefoot Training Research & Education: How-To Guide & Tips

Barefoot training may seem like another fitness fad. However, many serious athletes are opting to do at least some of their training without shoes for a lot of (very good) reasons.

Why Train Barefoot?

When you work out barefoot, each movement you make starts with your connection to the floor beneath you. You gain awareness, which can assist you in identifying problems with your form. You can correct your movements to reduce your risk of injury and make the most of every move you make.

Things to consider:

  • The bottoms of our feet are filled with thousands of nerve endings. These don't just allow you to feel the surface you are on. With mindful attention, they can help you better understand your movements.

  • Cushioned shoes are designed to protect us from impact, which has an unintended consequence of disallowing all of your nerves to receive pressure. Your nerve endings cannot supply you with information about how your feet are touching the floor.

  • If your gait is wrong or your posture is unstable, it may have an impact on the rest of your biomechanics. Each bit of improper movement can mess up your kinetic chain as your body is being strained by over-compensation. The result can include injuries to the knees, hamstrings, and other areas.

Barefoot workouts make you more aware of all of these factors.

The Many Benefits of Barefoot Training

A number of experts including podiatrists, trainers, and foot and ankle surgeons tout the benefits of training barefoot. Among the improvements that you can see by adding barefoot workouts to your routine:

  • Build strength in your arches.

  • Increase ankle stability.

  • Enhance the mind/body connection.

Barefoot training also streamlines your workout needs. There's no reason to lug heavy shoes back and forth to the gym. Even switching from regular gym shoes to barefoot socks means less weight and bulk in your workout bag.

Most agree that athletes at any level can benefit by incorporating barefoot workouts into their regular fitness routines.

How to Start Barefoot Training

In a recent conversation with Women's Health, foot and ankle expert Dr. Anne Holland Johnson said that you can start barefoot training with simple moves. Take a few minutes to balance barefoot on each foot. Getting used to the sensation of your feet against the floor can help develop better balance and gait.

Other easy ways to get comfortable being barefoot:

  • Walk around your house barefoot

  • Walk around outside barefoot

  • Do bodyweight exercises barefoot

  • Grab a pair of barefoot training socks

Barefoot Squats Benefits

Once you've begun learning, other lower-body moves such as squats and lunges can be added to your barefoot routine. These exercises incorporate the calves, thighs, and core. Doing them barefoot can help you increase strength in your feet and ankles.

Weightlifting Barefoot

When lifting free weights barefoot, be especially conscious of your feet. Set weights down gently and stay aware of the space you are in. Kettlebells are a good strength-training tool for barefoot workouts. The fluid movements pair especially well with the extra sensitivity provided by working out without shoes.

Tips for Safer Barefoot Training

While barefoot training has many physical benefits, there are a few things to keep in mind for a safe and enjoyable workout.

  • Bring mindfulness to your barefoot fitness practices. During a barefoot workout, you are more vulnerable to risks like stubbed or jammed toes. Heavy weights can cause injury if they are dropped. Being extra aware of your surroundings can cut your risk.

  • Take your time when getting used to new movements. When you work out barefoot, you are working different muscles that don't get as much use when your feet are supported by shoes. Build your strength gradually.

  • Impact activities like running also have a learning curve. Some trainers suggest transitioning to barefoot running by starting first with low-profile running shoes. As you get used to that, move on to an option like barefoot socks.

The Best Socks for Barefoot Training

Barefoot training does not necessarily require going completely without foot coverings. In some spaces, such as public gyms, working out without shoes is not permitted for safety or hygiene reasons. Additionally, cold floors can make being barefoot uncomfortable.

Adding a pair of barefoot socks can give you all the benefits of a barefoot workout without any of the potential downsides.

Pedestal Footwear has developed barefoot athletic socks that provide the protection you want while preserving the benefits of a barefoot workout. Some of the reasons they're the best:

  • antimicrobial silver lining reduces bacteria and odor.

  • strong non-slip grip soles provide safety.

  • heavy, durable construction stands up to your toughest workouts.

Additionally, these socks are available in different lengths to fit different preferences. Choose long socks, which add compression during activities like Crossfit. Or, opt for the lower profile of Minimal Collection socks.

Pedestal socks come in a range of colors and are proudly made in the USA.

Summing It All Up

Switching to barefoot workouts allows you to streamline your gear and simplify your pre and post workout routine. You get the benefits of your senses during exercise, and build stronger muscles in your ankles and feet.

By choosing a pair of barefoot socks, you can get the protection and grip you want without the added barriers that shoes add. Take a look at our barefoot sock collections to see which is the right fit for you and your routine.
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