There has been so much hype surrounding barefoot training/ living, so this post is to shed some light surrounding the benefits of going barefoot!
Because we have spent years and years wearing shoes, our feet fail to properly develop to their full capacity, muscles weaken, tendons and ligaments shorten, the risk of foot and ankle injuries increase, and our feet lose the ever- important tactile capacity and proprioceptive feedback.
Especially when we are in the gym, trying to re-teach our bodies how to move, our feet become increasingly important. The success of engaging and producing movements, in part relies on the fact that the feet are the only point of contact between your body and the floor, and play a major role in telling your brain where your body is in space= proprioception.
Our skeletal muscles produce force, and are also a means for absorbing force, therefore, when our skeletal muscles aren’t activating properly, the stress of the load is then transferred to ligaments, tendons, joints and connective tissue. Our feet and ankles aren’t supposed to withstand these high forces alone, without the activation of the muscular system, and we gradually lose this ability as we wear shoes to then try and absorb these loads.
The feet and ankles have over 100 muscles, making up 15-20% of all the muscles in the body, which says something!
This also creates not only a high risk of injury, but also decreases the amount of power and force your body can physically produce, leading us to a case where many movement patterns are dysfunctional to a degree, potentially causing other issues throughout the entire body, as well as challenging training results.
The better the feet are free and engaging with the floor/ surfaces, the better they will be able to give you information, make small adaptations, be more body-aware, re-calibrate your nervous system patterns, and help activate muscles further up the movement chain. Broken-down ankle and foot mechanics majorly impact muscle function, biomechanics, and our joint health throughout the entire body.
For many movements, the more enhanced the feet and ankles are operating, the better the innervation all the way up the kinetic chain will be, as the neural signaling begins at the feet. By addressing some of these dysfunctions in the lower body and doing a little bit of movement barefoot, this will help restore movement mechanics, strengthen neural signaling throughout the entire body, improve muscle function, and help protect joint health.
Going barefoot time-to-time is also really fantastic in relation to the concept of ‘Earthing’. It connects us to the earth’s natural energy and re-balances our bodies, with benefits such as decreasing stress, combating illness, decrease pain, increase energy and vitality, normalize the body’s biological rhythms, and so much more!
Remember how good you feel when you are barefoot at the beach, or running along freshly cut grass? That is earthing!
Now obviously we can’t expect you to walk around barefoot all of the time, but the first step is to take your shoes off and get used to being barefoot! Notice how much you are able to sense what you are doing, make small changes to correct a mistake, and also how sensitive your feet are!
It is important to not expect yourself to be able to be comfortable with barefoot for long periods of time, as it takes time to build up strength in our intrinsic muscles in our feet and lower limb. So making sure you start with short bursts, and build up from there within your comfort zone.
We recommend undertaking advice from your practitioner, and assessment of movement patterns and biomechanics to be able to provide a proper individualized program for some barefoot training exercises. BOOK NOW