10 Reasons to Go Barefoot

1.) Decreased impact.

Irrefutably the most well-known benefit. Wearing shoes blocks our natural feedback to the ground. When we can feel the ground, we step lighter. Take two minutes for this test: 1st, run down the sidewalk for 50 feet with shoes on and 2nd, now do it barefoot – you will see the immediate, unmistakable difference. As you feel the ground you learn to walk lighter and strike with the balls rather than heels of your feet, drastically decreasing impact on muscles and joints. Impact in a running shoe: 12 times your body weight in pressure jolting into your system with every step. Impact out of a shoe: NONE. Kiss those injuries goodbye.

2.) Healing injuries.

Trust us we’ve heard it all. Can’t run anymore because of bad knees? A chronic case of shin splints? Weak ankles? Torn ACL? Plantar fasciitis? Michael was told he would never run again after a shattered femur and hip, both of which are now replaced with titanium rather than bone, he has no ACL and barely any lateral meniscus, and one knee has undergone 10 surgeries (there’s much more but we’ll spare you). If he can heal from a laundry list of debilitating injuries, it’s likely you can too. All of the benefits of going barefoot consolidate into one giant injury recovery plan in disguise. If we had a dime for everyone that said they hadn’t run for years because of injuries but now run pain and injury-free when going barefoot, well, we’d feel like the Rockefellers.

Danish film maker, actor, and stuntman, Adam Brix (far left) uses barefoot running to tone his body and improve his martial art practice.

3.) Increased muscle tone.

Barefoot walking helps give you abs of steel that would make John Basedow jealous, and legs worthy of the Greek Gods. When you’re not supported by your shoes, you have to do the work of balancing yourself. This comes directly from engaging your core muscles (abs and back) and creating a wall of strength in your midsection. Legs will gain better tone and balance as well as symmetrical strength since they’re forced to do the job of supporting you, rather than your shoes. If you commit to barefoot running, we can promise that you will have the best calves you have ever experienced in your life. Yes, that’s a guarantee.

4.) Better balance.

No matter how fit we are, we’re all concerned about tripping, falling or twisting an ankle. Raise your hand if you’ve said this: where did that rock come from? When we’re barefoot or in more minimalist shoes, we feel the ground better, giving our brains more information to prevent falls and better handle challenges coming our way (cracks in the sidewalk or a rocky trail). Interesting fact: did you know that we have more nerve endings in our feet than anywhere else on the body? No, that doesn’t mean that barefoot running will be incredibly painful. It means that when you’re barefoot you reboot the supercomputer (the nervous system between your feet and brain) to become awake and aware. The feet can now communicate better with the brain, helping the entire balance mechanism of the body (vestibular system).

5.) Stronger feet.

Why would you want stronger feet? There are lots of reasons. Want to grow arches where you once had none? Want to reduce bunions and straighten out your toes? Want feet that no longer ache at the end of the day, but feel like they could go on effortlessly step after step? Gradually working into barefoot running (or walking) helps strengthen every muscle of your feet and lower legs. It helps you regain the function of the foot you’ve lost since you were a little child. Think of it as a fountain of youth for your feet – they will slowly go back to how they were when you were born (before the years of unintentional damage). Through this natural process your foot transforms into the healthiest, pain-free version of itself.

6.) Peace of mind.

When you’re fully barefoot, you’re awarefoot - studying the ground and your surroundings for everything. Until your skin grows strong (about 2-3 weeks) you’re hyper-vigilant, looking at the ground for any sign of danger. Going barefoot means that from this step forward, you are now one with the terrain, not just a spectator. Focusing on your steps, rather than your problems, helps empty the mind and put you at ease. Consider it forced quieting of the mind (which all of us could use). This gives you a great sense of peace or mindfulness, as you’re now focused purely on the run (or walk), not on the troubles you’ve left behind.

7.) Happy happy, joy joy.

Studies show going barefoot can reduce your blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormones). Study after study also illustrates that regular physical exercise not only reduces stress but also reduces anxiety and depression while conversely elevating mood and self-esteem. Truthfully, we don’t need these studies to know that these claims are true. As human beings it is an innate and instinctual response to know that physical activity is good for you. So when you are tempted to loaf (as we all are) ask yourself – do I want to pass up that runner’s high?

8.) Better posture.

The stronger your feet and core, the taller and lighter you will stand. When you go barefoot, you naturally start to stand and walk more like a dancer, tall and light, elongating the entire body and straightening the spine. Look like a Julliard scholar without the torture of becoming one!

9.) Increased circulation and blood flow.

Want to reduce those varicose veins? Want toastier feet in the winter and cooler feet in the summer? Do you want to overcome bodily injuries or heal a nagging foot condition (plantar fasciitis anyone?) In a shoe, your foot can’t bend, rotate or flex - it’s in a two-dimensional box! Once you’re out of a shoe, you’re moving your foot more three dimensionally, giving your feet a workout. The more your feet work, the stronger they become and the more blood flow they need (and the body provides). Increased blood flow helps with varicose veins, temperature regulation, healing, and much more.

10.) Social Stimulus

Looking for a new way to meet new people and/or the opposite sex? Yes, puppies are a surefire conversation starter, but if you are looking for  less responsibility, try barefoot running. You are guaranteed to stand out in a crowd, enough for curious onlookers to stop and ask you about your bare feet. Trust us, we know from experience. Oh, the stories we could tell! No icebreaker necessary, just take off those shoes and watch the conversations start flowing.

There are more benefits to going barefoot of course, but we didn’t think you wanted to read that long. If you are a barefoot first-timer, please take it SLOW and do some instructional reading (our book can help) before going for your first run. Thanks for stopping by and as always, run free!