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Benefits of Going Barefoot

 | 14 Comments  | Blog

exercise-barefoot

Going barefoot sounds like some eccentric new trend, but did you know that going barefoot is actually a scientifically-researched practice that has tons of incredible health advantages, such as increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep? I personally exercise barefooted as much as I possibly can. The only exercise I use shoes for is rope jumping.

Anatomically speaking, going barefoot is one the best thing you can do for your feet.

We wear shoes to protect our feet from cuts, injuries, bruises, etc. But in reality, wearing shoes has weakened our feet.

Bio-mechanist Katy Bowman, claims that our “modern, thick-soled shoes are contributing to a lot of problems including osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, knee-hip-back pain, and bunions. This is partially because most shoes block full motion of the foot joints and nerve feedback from the feet.” 

Our feet are supposed to be able to handle walking, hiking, treading, running, and yes, even working out, completely barefoot, without an issue.  Many indigenous people from all over the world know this very well. They live almost 100% of their lives completely barefoot! They wander the savannas and hike the rain forests without the protection or support of their Nikes or Adidas, and yet, they have strong, healthy feet. Far superior to our own, with very few, if any, foot problems at all.

Here are a few health benefits to inspire you to ditch the Reeboks and give barefoot living a try…

1.    First and foremost, going barefoot strengthens the little stabilizing muscles in your feet and  ankles and makes them stronger. Ultra-cushioned and thick-heeled shoes that give a lot of stability and support actually make your feet and ankles lazy. Almost 30% of the joints in your body are in your feet. Your feet are the base of support for the whole body. Improper foot mechanics often lead to knee and back pain. The artificial support you get from shoes can place unnatural pressure on the knees, spine, and neck and lead to chronic pain.

2.    Have horrible balance and coordination? Go barefoot. Again, by strengthening the small stabilizing muscles of your feet, you actually improve your balance and overall sports performance. Also, according to a study published in Oxford Academic, by going barefoot, “the nerve endings in your feet have access to the sensory information provided by the environment which improves something called “foot position awareness,” a fancy way of saying “stability and balance. Thick shoes remove this proprioceptive awareness, reducing balance and stability and increasing the risk of injuries.

3.    Reduces the risk of heart disease.  High viscosity has been linked as a risk factor for heart disease, but by going barefoot outside through a practice called earthing, this can contribute to reducing this factor significantly. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, earthing (when you walk barefoot outside), increases the surface charge of red blood cells. This charge helps reduce the amount of clumping in the cells, which results in a decrease in blood thickness.

4.    Prevent problems later on in life. How many of us know older people who have hip problems? Probably all of us. If the stability and mobility of your feet start to deteriorate (which happens when you wear shoes all the time), this will affect and change the ankle, knee and hip positions and make them all more prone to injuries. Prevention is key here to avoid having issues later on in life. Going barefoot now as often as possible will help aid you from being another older person that needs a hip replacement.

Now, if you’ve been inspired to go barefoot to strengthen your feet and by connection, your whole body, then that is great! But start slow. Your feet have gotten used to shoes and support their whole lives. Going barefoot completely and adding in high impact and high-intensity workouts and movements can lead to injury. Just like any muscle, you have to work your way up.

Start by being barefoot inside your home, and work your way up to being barefoot as much as possible. Take your dog out barefoot.  Getting the mail? Do it shoeless. Living room workout? Do it without shoes on.

Go slowly but overtime, you will learn how to use your feet again. Going slowly will help strengthen them and prevent injuries.

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Comments



14 comments on “Benefits of Going Barefoot”

  1. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  Jura, France

    Z, are you ready to give up on your heels? I do, I have reached a point that even the tiniest slope in standard gym shoes are noticeable. I think I’ll sell all my high heels shoes!

    • private avatar image
      Private

      Private  |  VA, United States

      I do wear heels on the weekends sometimes, but mainly boots in the winter and only for a few hours. I’ve seen how mangled my Mom’s feet look after decades of wearing heels to work on a daily basis. A job where she had to walk around a lot. It’s not worth it to me. Whose idea was it to make high heels fashionable for women???

  2. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  Perth, Western Australia, Australia

    I’ve been working out at home without shoes ever since i found bodyrock from 2009/2010. Just found that winter time time is a bit cold for barefooting at home and it all depends on types of flooring. I limit my high heels time for dressing up and special occasions. I’m more into walking shoes now to suit my current lifestyle.

  3. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  | 

    Check out what Katy bowman has to say about heels.
    No Bueno!
    😳

  4. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  | 

    Love Katy Bowmans research & books. I’ve always worked out barefoot & go barefoot whenever I can.

  5. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  NJ

    I’ve always done your workouts barefoot, since day one (like 5+ years ago). Since that was what I was used to, when I did try to workout in shoes, it hurt my ankles, so nope, no shoes. I even do the jump roping without shoes, which basically taught me not to screw up, cause yes that hurts! Haha.

  6. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  GA, United States

    I workout barefoot, but I tend to go around the house with slippers because my feet get terribly cold. I would guess that going around with socks (minus the slippers), would be just about as good as barefoot? I still get cold with socks, and I get a little nervous about slipping in the hardwood parts of the house (I need to get some socks suited for that), but I’m trying to switch to walking around more with socks only, no slippers. Anyone have any hints for cold-footed people like me? Again, I’d think socks would work similarly to barefooted…but does anyone know if that would still be defeating the purpose in some way? I work from home most of the time, so that’s some extra barefoot (or sock-foot) time right there! 🙂 I’m considering looking into the minimalist shoes, too — in addition to hearing a lot of you gals here talking about them, my parents swear by them. I’m thinking it’s about time to grab some of my own! 🙂

  7. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  UK

    I have never done any of the workouts with shoes on. Always barefoot right from the beginning many years ago when I discovered bodyrock. Even with jump rope I still do it barefoot and yes it hurts like hell when I hit my feet but I’d rather endure the pain than jump with trainers on. And as soon as winter is over I take socks off and walk around the house and in my garden barefoot. I just love it.

  8. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  | 

    Due to a knee condition that I have among a few other issues, my orthopedic surgeon/sports medicine doctor, physical therapists, and my family doctor have all advised me to wear appropriate shoes with a specific sole insert for high intensity, running and any form of jumping. Otherwise, I can go barefoot for low impact. I think it’s great to go barefoot if you can; but in my case, I have to wear shoes to avoid injury.

  9. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  Montana, USA

    Intriguing! As a kid I used to go EVERYWHERE without shoes on. It would drive my mom nuts. She’d make me leave the house with shoes on, then I’d ditch them when I was around the corner. My feet definitely are not tough enough to do that now! Though I’ve been doing Z’s workouts barefooted ever since discovering her in 2012. Shoes have always seemed silly to me in the house. I don’t go barefoot outdoors, but I generally wear sandals and it’s pretty interesting to see people’s reactions to me walking in “snake country” with sandals on. If I went completely barefooted, they would definitely think I was crazy! I guess it would make me more aware of my surroundings….

  10. private avatar image
    Private

    Private  |  VA, United States

    Zuzka thank you for this article. I started working out barefoot too since I now realize that wearing shoes all these years have made my foot and ankle muscles weak. I have had problems with one of my ankles for several years now and it sucks to think that the shoes I believed were protecting me might actually the cause. Athletic shoes are marketed heavily as having lots of cushion to absorb the impact of jumps and high impact exercises in order to avoid knee and ankle injury, so I believed I needed that.

    I think it would be helpful to a lot of people to talk about ergonomics in the workplace. Many of us, including you, sit at a computer for many hours each day. My wrist is starting to bother me and I want to do what I can to keep everything in proper alignment and avoid chronic pain from repetitive movements. Any products you can recommend would be helpful. I think Laila mentioned an ergomouse or something like that. I was able to order a standing desk so at least I can alternate between sitting and standing.

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