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Is it Okay to Workout Without Shoes?

Working out without shoes is very activity specific. You should ease your way into any activity and see if any pain develops from the change. Barefoot and minimalist footwear has become hugely popular among runners and other athletes over the past several years. And, exercising barefoot – or with as little on your feet as possible – does have some clear benefits. But it also comes with some risks.

Is it Okay to Workout Without Shoes?

The idea of working out without shoes, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. After all, humanity is born barefoot and plenty of cultures around the world traditionally run, work and live barefoot. Still, it doesn’t always feel right to the modern mindset. We’re just so used to wearing, and sort of depending, on shoes.

What, then, can we make of the recent trend of barefoot exercise? Is okay to workout without shoes?

The Benefits

Proponents of barefoot exercise make some pretty compelling arguments, largely based on human anatomy. In fact, according to some experts, the human body is ideally built for running – with most of the key features contained within your feet and ankles.

Modern footwear, though, changes the way that those biological machines work. The size, shape and weight of most shoes forces the human body to assume a heel-first strike pattern. This stride is unnatural and can greatly increase the risk of a variety of injuries.

But working out without shoes, then, the theory is that you’re allowing your feet and legs to operate the way they’re meant to.

The Risks

Then why did we ever invent shoes? Because, for all the impressive function of the human foot, it does have some weakness. Specifically, running around barefoot – without any sort of protection – leaves you exposed to lots of different injuries.

Apart from the risk of hitting something with your feet as you move, the repeated stress placed on your soles could cause significant damage. Modern shoes, however provide cushioning and shielding against this sort of problem.

Things to Think About

The type of activity that you’re involved in is a pretty important consideration when deciding whether to exercise barefoot. Certain sports – or terrains – just don’t create safe environments for unprotected feet.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be totally barefoot. There are many minimalist shoes available, that allow your feet to function naturally but still provide some degree of protection and cushion.

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