Is Exercise Without Shoes Better?

SHOULD YOU BE EXERCISING WITH OR WITHOUT SHOES?

Won’t a heel lift make your ankles immobile? Or will it help your squat technique? Is arch-support a crutch or an excellent tool for improving form? That question has almost become controversial in the fitness and health world.

So, what’s the answer?

The short answer: it depends.

It depends on the individual. Shoes are neither angelic nor demonic. Rather, they serve an excellent purpose for what they are if you know how to use them in the right way.

In the short video below, I go over why we’ve brought shoes back into the gym at Beometry, and how you can use them to:

  • Improve your squat technique
  • Avoid compensating in your spine
  • And more.

WHEN TO USE SHOES

USE THEM FOR RUNNING

Running is a repetitive activity. Plus, in modern-day society, most of us run on cement. So, a little support and cushion can go a long way in preventing injury. If you want to make sure you’re in the best fit for you, I recommend going to your local running shoe store, where they’ll analyze your feet and gait to match you with the perfect shoe. In Tacoma, that’s Fleet Feet Sports Tacoma.

USE THEM FOR SQUATTING.

For most adults, we’ve lost mobility in our ankles and hips. That means, we have limitations in how safely we can squat without compensating by using our back and knees in ways that can lead to injury. If you find that your knees cave when you squat, or your arches collapse, or something just hurts, shoes might be what’s needed.

For the perfect fit, pick a shoe with a small lift in the heel and maximal support in the arch. If you’d like to get a more personalized idea of the right fit for you, or if you even NEED shoes for your squat, reach out to one of our coaches and schedule an assessment. We’d love to help you restore your ability to move pain-free and strong!

WHEN TO GO BAREFOOT

FREE YOUR FEET FOR YOGA

When you’re doing gentle movements like restorative yoga, qigong, or meditation, going barefoot can work wonders in getting your body and mind grounded. Plus, setting your feet free can help you improve balance, strength, and mobility in your feet and ankles.

GO SHOE-LESS FOR PRE-HAB AND REHAB

Shoes are an awesome tool, but if you want to strengthen your ankles and feet before or after surgery, or if you just want to improve your movement in general, you’ll want to free up your toes from socks and shoes. Find a trainer or physical therapist who can help you learn how to use your feet, like the trainers at Beometry.

CARPET AS AN OPTION FOR LOW-IMPACT EXERCISE

The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends low- to moderate-impact exercises on carpet. This surface provides a cushioned yet supportive environment for activities that are gentle on joints, making it an excellent option for those seeking low-impact workout alternatives.

BENEFITS OF BAREFOOT WORKOUTS

BETTER STABILITY FOR LIFTING WEIGHTS

Lifting weights barefoot goes beyond mere preference; it has tangible benefits. This practice enhances stability and provides heightened sensory input. The absence of shoes allows for a more direct connection with the ground, potentially improving overall performance.

INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

Engaging in workouts without shoes is not only liberating but also beneficial for foot health. Going barefoot strengthens the muscles in the feet and increases flexibility. This natural approach fosters a more harmonious relationship between the feet and the ground.

ENHANCED BALANCE, AGILITY, AND PROPRIOCEPTION

Walking barefoot provides a unique sensory experience, sending stronger messages to the brain. Over time, this heightened input can lead to improved balance, agility, and proprioception – the body’s ability to sense its position in space.

RISKS OF BAREFOOT WORKOUTS OR EXERCISE

INSTABILITY AND DIFFICULTY BALANCING

Going barefoot during workouts can increase the risk of instability and difficulty in balancing, especially if you are not accustomed to exercising without the support of shoes.

POTENTIAL SORENESS AND INJURY

Transitioning from cushioned shoes to barefoot workouts too quickly or without proper consideration may lead to muscle soreness and increase the risk of injury. Gradual adaptation is crucial to minimize these potential risks.

CALLUS DEVELOPMENT

Extended periods of barefoot activity may lead to the development of calluses on the feet. While these calluses provide natural protection, excessive or uneven callus formation can pose risks such as discomfort or potential skin issues.

INHERENT RISKS OF BAREFOOT EXERCISE

Engaging in workouts without proper footwear exposes you to inherent risks such as stepping on sharp objects, uneven surfaces, or potential exposure to infections. Awareness of the environment and taking precautions is crucial to minimize these risks during barefoot activities.

EVERY SO OFTEN, JUST LET THOSE TOOTSIES BE FREE.

Our feet were never meant to stay indoors all day. Just like the rest of our bodies, feet need fresh air to avoid fungus, to stay mobile, and stay strong. So, every so often, walk around your house barefoot, let your feet dig into the sand, the dirt, the grass and try exercising without shoes.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family!

In the meantime, stay healthy and keep moving!

– Coach Michelle

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