As with most diet and exercise trends, the verdict is still out on the benefits of barefoot workouts. Shod or unshod? That is the question.
Being the true caveman that you are, working out barefoot may seem like nothing new to you. Yet, there has been plenty of discussion among experts on the relative pros and cons of working sans footwear. Just consider the evidence.
When working out in shoes, the small muscles, tendons and ligaments in your feet can become weaker. Working out barefoot gives these small muscles, tendons and ligaments a chance to become stronger, thereby improving both balance and proprioception. This is because the foot muscles and tendons are the ones directly responsible for balance and coordination.
Perhaps the biggest plus to working out barefoot is that it can also lead to greater physical efficiency. In particular, studies have shown that running barefoot can improve performance by up to four percent.
By running barefoot, it is possible to develop a more natural gait. Many runners land on the heel of their foot as a result of the excessive padding in the heel of the modern running shoe. Running barefoot forces runners to land on their forefoot and not on the heels.
According to researcher Tom Kelso says, “The most efficient runners land on the mid-foot and keep their strides smooth and fluid. Landing on the forefoot also allows your arches to act as natural shock absorbers.”
Why fix what isn’t broken? A healthy individual with no foot pains may find working out barefoot to be quite unnecessary and potentially dangerous.
Working out shoeless leaves the feet susceptible to injury. When lifting barefoot, a dropped weight can crush defenseless toes. Running unshod exposes the soles to pieces of glass and other sharp objects. There are also the many germs that feet can come in contact to at the gym.
In the beginning, working out barefoot may be something of a pain. Many individuals develop painful blisters during the first two or three weeks. Others begin to feel a mild form of Achilles tendonitis when starting to workout barefoot.
The human body is not perfect. Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, medical director for the New York Road Runners, has said, “In 95 percent of the population or higher, running barefoot will land you in my office. A very small number of people are biomechanically perfect, so most need some sort of supportive or corrective footwear.”
Since you’re here …
… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading CAVEMENWORLD than ever, but few are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike some othe organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our articles open to all. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. CAVEMENWORLD’s independent, investigative journalism and graphics take a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.