What if the key to a better workout is a barefoot workout? Your feet have more than 200,000 nerve endings, the second-most sensitive part of your body besides your lips and fingertips. When you stimulate your feet, their heightened sensitivity helps your body respond to movement.
Steven Sashen, footwear expert and Masters All-American sprinter bust the following myths about being barefoot:
Myth: Working out barefoot can cause injuries.
Fact: A growing body of evidence shows running shoes might actually be doing us more harm than good. The latest study suggests that wearing shoes changes the way we run and weakens the foot in a way that can contribute to many common sports injuries. Long-term everyday use of footwear leads to a weaker foot and often, a collapsed arch. When we start running in shoes, our feet aren’t adapted to cope with these mechanics.
- How can barefoot workouts benefit your posture and boost your workout performance?
- Is there proof that barefoot is better for your feet?
Myth: You have to toughen your feet before you walk barefoot.
Fact: Your feet will immediately adjust to being barefoot. Biofeedback sent from your feet back to your brain automatically changes your gait to the most natural and comfortable walking and running stride for you. In the 1960s, Abebe Bikila won the Olympic Marathon barefoot because his shoes fell apart a few days before the race.
Walking barefoot will slightly readjust your form back to a natural gait. Done correctly, it is a painless process. Disconnecting your feet from the ground is actually the cause of most foot injuries seen from walking and running.
- What is the best way to transition to more barefoot workouts?
- Do you need to strengthen your feet before you start barefoot?
Myth: Cushioning is better and more comfortable for your feet.
Fact: Cushioning is not beneficial for your feet. Your natural foot has gone through thousands of years of evolution to do one thing, move you from point A to point B. Why does everyone think they need to cover them up with inches of material underneath them? Research shows clunky, padded shoes actually cause more discomfort than they solve.
- Why don’t you need cushioning in your shoes?
What if I have high arches or flat feet?
Steven Sashen has a local shoe company called Xero Shoes based in Broomfield, Colorado. Xero Shoes is barefoot-inspired shoe company.