Barefoot Workouts – The Pros and Cons

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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.

Pros

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.”

Cons

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.”

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Rocknette Cavemen

ROCKNETTE is the tribe’s artist-inresidence. She uses her creative talents to reflect the daily struggle of her people, telling intricate stories through her cave paintings

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