Benefits of Bare Feet

At Healthy Habits I often ask clients to take off their shoes and exercise in bare feet.  I like clients to feel the ground, this stimulates neurological receptors in the feet which send valuable information to the brain.  Balance and agility improves.


Getting rid of the structured shoe and exercising in bare feet also improves the range of motion of the ankles, feet and toes which is great for joint integrity and again for improving balance and agility.


Exercising bare feet makes some people uncomfortable, we have been told for years by the running shoe industry that we need their fancy, protective, cushioned foot wear for injury prevention.  The truth is that running shoes often cause injuries.  When running shoes lift the heel (think of those fancy protective cushions) it throws the body out of alignment.  It’s like exercising in high heels!  Don’t believe me?  Take one of your runners and measure how high your heel is off the ground.  With this additional height your calves are working more (and they get sore and tight) and it is impossible to maintain proper posture and spinal alignment.


It has also been shown that people who run in traditional running shoes tend to land on their heels, increasing the collision force and the risk of injury.  Here’s an interesting article from WebMD that discusses this in further detail,


If you are still uncomfortable with the idea of exercising in bare feet toss those high heels and purchase a pair of minimalist footwear.  Whatever you decide, either bare feet or minimalist footwear, there is a transition period as the muscles in your feet and lower legs begin to work harder and strengthening naturally occurs.  This can cause some initial muscle soreness and stiffness.  To make the transition easier you can add in some strengthening exercises to your exercise routine before you make the switch.  Exercises that require dorsiflexion and plantar flexion and various toe exercises like grabbing a towel on the floor with your bare feet are helpful.


And don’t stop thinking about the benefits of bare feet once you leave the gym.  Summer is here and it is a great time to walk around bare feet and see how good it feels.  1 – 2 hour intervals of walking in bare feet will slowly build the small muscles in the feet and ankles.  And keep your new healthy habit all year by ditching your slippers in the winter.