Lately, I (Renee’) have had several people ask me why I always work out barefoot. When I tried giving short answers such as “it improves my balance” or “I don’t get as sore” it always led to more questions and more explanations. I decided this would be a good topic to post about and let you decide for yourself if you want to give it a try.
The foot has 28 bones, 38 muscles, 35 joints, 56 ligaments and 2 arches. It is the very foundation of our body and affects every other part of our bodies from the ankle to the knee, the hip, the back and even the neck. Most athletic shoes with their inflexible soles, structured sides and super-cushioned inserts keep the foot so restricted that they may actually be making your foot lazy, weak and more prone to injury. These shoes do all the work for our feet and the foot muscles weaken from lack of use. It is common for ankle, knee and back pain to occur from improper foot mechanics.
Barefoot exercise allows a greater range of motion to the foot, which can increase its flexibility. Barefoot exercise will help with balance, postural alignment, and injury prevention. One of the first things you may notice when you first try barefoot squats, lunges and other strength training exercises is an initial lack of stabilization. A person can become so conditioned to using shoes for support that they almost fall sideways when doing a barefoot lunge. Balance is one aspect that will greatly improve when the strength and flexibility of the foot improves. With improved balance comes improved posture and muscle alignment which leads to less aches and pains and a reduced risk of balance injuries such as twisted ankles.
Try exercising barefoot for a couple weeks and see how it strengthens you from the neck down!