Importance of Barefoot Training
As we explore the benefits of barefoot training we must ask ourselves, “Why?” Why train barefoot when shoes seem to provide the support and shock absorption needed for optimal performance? The answer to this question lies in the function of the human foot.
Our feet become “lazy” in sneakers, or shoes. How so? How does this happen?
The bottom of the foot plays such an important role in balance and stabilization. From the skin on the bottom of the foot to the contracture of the toes, these mechanisms are blocked or dampened when wearing shoes.
The neuromuscular system is based on the concept of “Use it, or lose it”. Just like how you can lose the strength in your quads or biceps if you stop lifting weights, the muscles in the feet can also atrophy with disuse.
What’s interesting is that barefoot science studies have shown that simply walking around barefoot begins to strengthen the small muscles in the feet to the point that subjects have noticed an increase in medial arch height. How cool is that! This is often why people who switch to minimalist often feel a great relief in foot, knee and back pain.
The Human Foot
Over one-fourth of all our bones are in our feet. Each foot comes equipped with 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. With an average of 1-1.5 times our body weight in ground reaction forces resonating through our body with each step, our feet play a critical role in the absorption and dissipation of these forces.
As we rhythmically move from heel strike to push-off, the surrounding extrinsic and intrinsic musculature of the foot and ankle must contracture to stabilize our base of support and to propel the body forward.
Benefits of Barefoot!
– strengthens the stabilizing muscles of the foot and ankle and makes them stronger
– improves our proprioception which will improve our balance and movement
– improves muscle alignment
– gives you stronger arches
– increases flexibility and mobility of the foot and gives a much wider range of motion.
– Bonus benefit: Bare feet do not naturally stink. The sweat glands in the feet are just like the sweat glands in the hands. The reason why people develop feet ordor is due to the bacteria bred from keeping those feet in shoes for hours.
Let’s Take Good Care of Our Feet!