We jump out of bed and slip into our slippers, before leaving the house we put on our street shoes. Walking barefoot? Not an option, because our feet are so used to shoes that it can be quite uncomfortable to walk barefoot. The tiled floor is too cold for barefoot walking and on the street we need shoes to protect our feet.
Bare feet are also usually considered unattractive and clumsy. Shoes are simply part of our modern lifestyle. Besides their protective function, shoes also allow us to express our individual style.
However, by wearing shoes we also lose muscle strength and sensory feedback from the ground is lost. In the following article you will learn why it can be beneficial to exercise barefoot.
Exercising barefoot - advantages and effects
In a study by Franklin et al. 2015, which was published in the scientific journal Gait & Posture, interesting results can be read.
The following effects can be achieved if the shoes are removed during training, i.e. if you train barefoot or with socks:
- More muscles will be used
In normal footwear, our feet move in a kind of protective posture. Barefoot, up to 20 more muscles are used, which are not only strengthened, but also have a variety of tasks for a stable walk. If you train these muscles specifically with weights, the "forgotten" muscles can be reactivated and built up again quickly. This makes an important step towards staying healthy, fit and injury-free.
- Better balance
Having a good sense of balance is important to prevent injuries. As we get older, a fall can lead to serious injury, which is why it is very important to always walk steadily and not falter, even if the surface is slippery or bumpy.
A study on children by Zech et al. 2018, published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, shows that children who run and play barefoot frequently have a significantly better sense of balance than children who always wear shoes.
- Gain in muscle
Especially with weight training, whether with your own weight or with external weights, a great effect can be felt if you train barefoot than with shoes. The brain receives better sensory feedback from the ground through the feet. Particularly with stagnating performance, barefoot training can lead to being able to lift heavier weights. Due to the better perception via the foot, the quality of the movements can be significantly improved, which can ultimately lead to an increase in performance.
Is barefoot training suitable for everyone?
In principle, yes, assuming you have healthy feet. However, if you have had fractures or deformities or suffer from osteoporosis, you should always consult your doctor. In addition, you should always listen to your own body. If you are in pain, you should not continue with barefoot training.
It should also be mentioned that there is a particular risk of injury from shards, spikes or sharp-edged stones when exercising outdoors.
Tips for barefoot training
As with all new activities and sports, one should slowly get used to the strain of barefoot training. If you are already used to training with weights in shoes, you should not train barefoot for more than 10 minutes at the beginning. Of course, the same applies to all other sports.
The best is to increase barefoot training by 5 minutes every week, as long as the previous session did not cause any problems. Perhaps this gentle increase seems too cautious, but it is important to remember that the new muscles need time to strengthen. Only when strong muscles are developed does the risk of injury decrease.
Therefore, it is always advisable to approach barefoot training slowly and not to try to do too much at the beginning.
Alternative to barefoot training are barefoot shoes
An alternative to barefoot training is wearing barefoot shoes. Our ZAQQ barefoot shoes offer sufficient protection, but are designed in a way that sensory feedback is not lost. That's why the soles of all ZAQQs are absolutely flat, ultra-thin and highly flexible. The foot can feel the ground and roll naturally. In addition, our shoes offer a lot of space in the area of the toes, so that the foot can move freely in the barefoot shoe, just like when walking barefoot.
For sporting activities, whether weight training or running, we recommend our ZAQQ barefoot shoes from the running category. These are light, flexible and particularly breathable.
Feel free, feel ZAQQ.
Simon Franklin, Michael J. Grey, Nicola Heneghan, Laura Bowen, François-Xavier Li 2015: Barefoot vs common footwear: A systematic review of the kinematic, kinetic and muscle activity differences during walking, Gait & Posture, 2015, Volume 42, Issue 3, p 230-239.
Astrid Zech, Ranel Venter, Johanna E. de Villiers, Susanne Sehner, Karl Wegscheider, Karsten Hollander 2018: Motor Skills of Children and Adolescents Are Influenced by Growing up Barefoot or Shod, Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2018, Volume 6, p 115.