Importance of Barefoot Training

Importance of Barefoot Training

When you are scrolling over your Instagram, you are bound to see some of your favourite trainers doing weight training without their shoes on. Of course, this might make them look effortlessly bad ass, still, there is a question that comes to your mind – Do I need to try this at home?

Well, as per most of the trainers and podiatrists, barefoot training along with regular workouts might be great for your body.

Kick-Off the Shoes

Now, this might sound almost counterintuitive. Our sneakers provide huge comfort thanks to technological advancements. Not only are they stronger, and lighter, they are springier too. They would help you to run faster, jump higher, and even crush the WOD. Here the best footwear for training will not be the normal footwear.

Turns out that kicking off your shoes is the secret to getting more toned and stronger. Therefore, most powerlifters never wear shoes while they are lifting weights. Keep in mind that our feet are the only part of the body that is touching the ground, and this helps to work our body and developing muscles in the gym.

It might not be easy to think twice about kicking off your shoes, the second you walk right inside after a long day or as and when you are jogging down the sandy beach. However, when it is related to hitting the gym, it is entirely different.

Get into the latest Instagram-friendly fad, likely somewhere in your feed at this very moment: working out indoors without your sneakers on—somewhere other than your yoga mat, Pilates reformer, or ballet bar.

Frankly, the trend that involves barefoot training is getting huge traction, and that too among the fit pros all the time. It is not that they are too lazy in lacing up. Working out without any shoes helps in improving one’s balance and the whole ankle and foot strength as per most of the health experts.

Foundation Always Comes First

Our feet are major support and the foundation of our movements. Each of the movements we do starts with the neural firing present in our feet. However, the feet would not only initiate the movements but will also take care of the consequences of our movements too.

This is the reason why when we jump or do the skeletal structure, our feet easily absorb the force of the impact and even secures us from any kind of injuries. Just like any other body parts, they also would be conditioned, strengthened, and used in a proper way for functioning effectively. Herewith the shoes on, such kind of responsibility gets shifted right away from your feet.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that our feet are packed with ligaments, joints, muscles, and tendons. These provide a huge amount of stability and range of motions. Also, they will cover the proprioceptors that are present in our body’s sensors. This will allow the brain to interpret the space that we are standing on and the movement in that space.

Now this will be done by taking in the details regarding the joint angle, muscle tension, muscle length, etc. Also, the position of our limbs in space. Frankly, this is what helps in keeping our balance, prevent injuries, and provide stability. Even the requirement for exercising and correctly using the exercise plays a major role in proper weight training. Most importantly, the shoes allow us from doing so.

Not many people are aware that our feet affect us much more than we realize. Various studies show that the whole kinetic chain of movement from the feet up is affected when the feet are not placed right at the optimum. Not only that huge pressure is exerted right on our hip, knees, lower back, and neck. This would affect our posture and even performance.

To put it in simple terms, barefoot training would assist in strengthening our muscles and feet. Also, since it is a habit for us to wear shoes, such an aspect would kick it out. No doubt, most of the favourite training activities like yoga and the clean the beach boot camp (CBBC) are done barefoot. Of course, barefoot training is the integral aspect of the CBBC, and this is the major reason why the CBBC is one of the best programs for fat loss.

Nowadays, most people do take some time out to work out and exercise. This even involves the professionals and wearing the right shoes is all that is needed for taking care of our feet. That is somewhat far away from the truth. Most of our lower body workouts and even some of the other ones will not require the support of the shoes at all. They will not even need the necessity of the feet and the whole performance can benefit one a lot.

Besides these, the most common foot ailments like bunions, corns, Achilles tendinitis, etc are just the effect of wearing shoes all the time. You might be dearly holding on to the gym shoes, but you do have to realize the benefits of barefoot training as it would easily convince you to take them away.

Benefits of A Good Barefoot Training

We all know that the human body is created for function without any kind of external feet support. When we train barefoot, the stabilizer muscles and the connective tissues would suddenly get activated. This is not the same as people who are wearing sneakers.

Training barefoot helps your body to handle the stress that is applied to the body, compared to what the sneakers are doing. Strength is gained along with the assistance of the feet and this helps to improve body awareness, body alignment, and balance.

Here when you are applying barefoot training to your regular exercising, you might notice there would be huge improvements in terms of the whole stability, body awareness, and feet strength. At times, getting the right shoes whether it is regular or barefoot style will help at increasing the leg strength and this allows your body to get a better shock absorption feeling. Also, with the enhanced shock absorption, the body can tolerate the huge stress that is applied right to the body in an injury-free way.

Body Awareness

The feet have the peripheral nerves and there are thousands of other major nerves too. These provide a huge awareness of the body position yours. Such peripherals nerves are the major responsibility for sending signals to your brain.

These are the nerves that when do not respond correctly, will lead to muscle control and a bad feeling throughout your body. Also, it would lead to the disruption of the body upright and even stabilization. No doubt, the barefoot running will allow the nerves to send signals to the body and thus help in improving the muscle mind connections.

Stability and Agility

Now the kind of shoes you are wearing would set the foundation of a proper movement. When shoes are taken away from the stress that the ankles and feet are subjected to is increased. This would reduce the ankle stability and strength, and this is necessary for human performance. The ankle agility and stability are the major factor that plays a huge role in the performance of the athlete.

Lesser Muscle Imbalances

Most people never realize that shoes can provide excess support and develop imbalance which would, later, lead to injuries. Even the shoe would hide the weakness of yours. With barefoot training, you can know the imbalances that would be required for addressing.

The natural barefoot movement can amplify the ankle, hip, knee mobility issues. Besides that, all this can be observed using the foot pronation, range of motion, painful movement, gait, and stiffness.

Sometimes your client would have good proprioception. In that case, it is great to have a good sense of where your body is in space. Barefoot training will help at improving this and even the movement patterns that the brain records. Here the plantar surface of the feet can play a huge role in the muscle connections and even the movement patterns. The proprioceptors will help in activating the feet muscles and will provide the required stability in transferring the weight of the body.

Sometimes the proprioceptors would fire, and your client can experience lesser muscle imbalances and gain better results.

What Are the Advantages of Barefoot Training?

If you are looking for some compelling arguments regarding the lack of the need for sneakers, then check out these benefits.

Gain A Better Sense to Your Body in Space

Of course, barefoot will help at increasing the proprioception and will bring in the awareness of how the body moves right in the space. Just think of it as lifting weights or doing everyday tasks like typing or writing wearing thick or padded gloves.

When you hit the right keys present on your PC or take the grip of the weight, it can be tough. You might not feel quite right when you are doing this. Of course, this might seem a bit different compare to how your feet are function, still, there are certain similarities. Here the sensory input of your brain would get the feeling of providing proprioceptive feedback. Your brain will easily make it better and connect it to the movements, irrespective of whether you are lifting, standing, and stepping around.

The easiest method for noticing this would be increasing the proprioception that is available with the cue and sometimes this is the common thing you might hear in the squat class. There are many fitness pros, and they would tell you to push through your feet as and when you are standing from the bottom of the movement.

You might be barefoot and in such a case, you can simply feel the ground. The best part is that this cue will be easy to execute.

Stronger and More Flexible Feet

Using the barefoot training, you can simply work on your muscles of your feet and they would help in keeping you balanced and upright. The stronger the feet are the stronger foundation in the body. If you want to build more foot strength, then you can try this drill from experts.

Stand barefoot and try to lift your toes off the floor. Then you would have to slowly place them back down, right one at a time. Continue to do this drill a few times on each side as per your regular workouts.

Now, this can be helpful for most runners. Here the more mobile your feet are the better your stride would be. Also, sometimes your feet will not be moving right in the full or proper range of motion. In such a case, it can be better to throw off your stride and go for a slew of other issues. Now, these can range from tight hips to knee issues.

Begin working right from the ground up and then you can see some good improvements in your gait pattern.

Gaining More Awareness of Your Imbalances

Most experts feel that some of the major things that people notice right from incorporating the barefoot training are that you can do it as a better self-assess form and this will help in finding out some of the weaker points of your body.

Like in the squat, when you are doing with your shoes on, it would look and feel a bit good especially when you are not wearing shoes. Here this might feel completely different. Also, this would even help you to assess what is happening in your knees, hips, and even ankles.

At times, you might come across a certain amount of mobility or stability issues present in your ankles. In such a case, start incorporating more of such kind of drills into your day-to-day workouts.

Increased Stability Overall

Here the more details you can get right from the feet, the more stable your base would be. Also, the better your balance and posture can be. Not only that some individuals would feel stronger as they can engage in smaller muscles present right on the bottom of their feet.

Wrapping Up

Barefoot training is a great way to gain the best benefits of proper exercising. It would help you to enjoy the greatest effect in working out.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.