Benefits of Barefoot Training

My ankle strength saved me from a leg fracture this week, this is what the paramedic told me.

A crazy thing happened to me on Monday.

I was away on vacation and after walking out of the restaurant after dinner I stepped on an unsecured drainage hole and fell through. My left leg plummeted down the hole into the water, which was about thigh height and my right leg stabilized on the concrete. It was scary and I was shaken up. At the moment, I was in intense pain and my vitals were elevated. The paramedics were called and they examined me. He said that my ankle tendons and surrounding muscles were so strong that it likely prevented a fracture because I was able to stabilize and brace my fall.

That said, I went home, iced and elevated my foot, drank my Athletic Greens to reduce systemic inflammation and hasten the heeling process and guess what?? My foot and felt about 85% better the next morning! Sure, my body can handle a substantial amount of stress due to my diet, but it was my ankle and foot strength that prevented a bigger problem.

How do you develop strong ankle and foot strength?

Simple. You train barefoot and walk around barefoot as much as possible. When I'm home, I'm barefoot and sock free allowing my feet to always be able to communicate with the surface I'm walking on.

All movement starts from our foundation, the feet where neural signaling begins. Optimal function of our feet and ankles is the ultimate foundation for the rest of the kinetic chain. Unfortunately, a majority of athletes and general populations display foot and ankle dysfunction to varying degrees which results in everyday injuries, along with knee, hip and back pain.

10 Benefits of Being Barefoot & Training Barefoot!

  1. Going barefoot strengthens the stabilizing muscles of the foot and ankle and makes them stronger. Shoes provide stability and support, making the feet and ankles "lazy"!. Strengthening the small stabilizing muscles of the feet can improve our balance and overall sports performance.
  2. Going barefoot improves our proprioception which will improve our balance and movement. Proprioception is our unconscious perception of space and our orientation and movement within the space around us.
  3. Go barefoot for stronger ankles and more support. Almost 30% of the joints in our body are in our feet. Our feet are the base of support for our whole body. Often knee and back pain stem from improper foot mechanics. Artificial support from shoes can place unnatural pressure on the knees, spine and neck. Our foot mechanics affects our whole posture.
  4. Going barefoot improves muscle alignment. Different muscle segments are used when we are barefoot than when we are in shoes and different muscle patterns become habitually recruited and strengthened. In addition, going barefoot improves and strengthens the neuromuscular pathways of the foot and leg. These mold the muscle firing sequences and affect the way we move.
  5. Going barefoot gives you stronger arches. Wearing shoes will artificially raise your arches and directly remove the responsibility from the arch muscles to do their job. Wearing shoes can create a vicious circle with arch support. First our arch muscles become weak from not being used, as they are supported by shoes. So you get weak arches and you need more support to relieve the tension temporarily. But now if you go for a flatter or less supported shoe the symptoms will return. So you end up needing more and more support but the root of the problem does not get addressed. This leads to a life of shoes and orthopedic problems. Let your natural arch muscles develop naturally to avoid these problems.
  6. Going barefoot increases flexibility and mobility of the foot and gives a much wider range of motion.
  7. Going barefoot will give you healthier feet overall. Shoes are the cause of most foot problems. Shoes often lead to bunions, corns, athlete’s foot, hammer toes, ingrown toe nails and fallen arches. People who spend lots of time barefoot do not experience any of these and generally do not even get any callouses. Research has shown that people before the invention of shoes had much healthier feet.
  8. Going barefoot improves our Chi (Qi) and strengthens the entire body. Our feet are often the only part of us that touches the ground. It releases all of the energy and force that we accumulate throughout our body. Going barefoot helps energy to flow smoothly through our body.
  9. If the stability and mobility of the feet deteriorate, this affects and changes the ankle, knee and hip positions and makes them all more prone to injuries. How many older people do you know who have hip problems? It could easily stem from having weak feet. Go barefoot now for prevention later!
  10. Many athletes who train barefoot have tremendous results and experience fewer injuries.
  11. Bonus benefit: Bare feet do not naturally stink. The sweat glands in the feet are just like the sweat glands in the hands. Feet will only stink after being cooped up in shoes for hours.

content adapted from Robins Key