Fitness training without shoes: is it useful or not?

Barefoot running is a new direction of fitness. Yoga and Pilates are the good old types of gymnastics, which also prescribe to train barefoot. Where do these recommendations come from, are fitness workouts without shoes really more useful than usual, and will they suit everyone? Let’s figure it out together!

To begin with, it is worth understanding that training without shoes is most often an ideology. In some types of fitness and practices, “barefoot” is a necessary condition for “energy circulation”, “opening of the chakras“, etc.

Speaking of this from a medical point of view, it is worth noting that doctors usually recommend walking barefoot more often on various types of natural covering: pebbles, sand, grass, earth. This stimulates the muscles and ligaments of the foot to work as it should by nature, improves blood circulation in the sole and thereby is the prevention of flat feet and varicose veins, helps to recover from various injuries and diseases of the legs. So, if you are engaged in walking, then training without shoes is, as they say, everything. But provided the weather is warm outside and that your route runs only on natural surfaces, without broken glass and the risk of catching fungal diseases. Do not hesitate to use light sports slippers and take them off only for part of your route.

We will tell you about other types of fitness training without shoes in more detail.

Fitness training without shoes: Pilates, yoga, Qigong, taichi
Almost all oriental gymnastics and fitness variations on their theme recommend training barefoot. If you practice on the beach, lawn or in a hall with a natural covering (mat), it is certainly useful in the same way as the walking described above. But many people carry out such training on ordinary floors. There is no special effect for the feet here, plus there is a risk that the legs will slip. In the gym (if you are not practicing on your own mat), there is a great danger of catching a fungal infection, because the concentration and patency of people there is very high.

Tip: using socks to preserve the illusion of a free foot and at the same time protect the skin from contact with the floor is not the best option. The fact is that in socks the feet almost always slip! Buy choreographic or gymnastic czechs — they do not interfere with the foot to work, bend and stretch, but they do not slip even on the parquet. Another option is barefoot sneakers, but more about them below.

Fitness training without shoes: barefoot running

The idea of running without shoes was born around the same time as the concept of natural running. Try running barefoot for a few steps (get up right now, take off your slippers and run around the room) – and you will immediately feel that you are putting your foot in a different way than in sneakers! In shoes, when running slowly, 90% of runners land on the heel, and without shoes, we all land on the toe. Thus, the advocates of natural running say, running in shoes distorts the natural technique, does not allow the foot to perform the function of a natural shock absorber (when you land on the toe, all the muscles, connections and bones of the foot work with shock absorbers from the toes to the heel, and when on the heel, only the sole of the shoe works). Accordingly, running in shoes leads to flat feet, degradation of the foot, etc.

There is a rational grain in these arguments, but fanatics of this method of running overlook several factors. Firstly, the ancient man who walked and ran without shoes weighed 20 kilograms less than the modern one (without taking into account the excess weight we often have!). Secondly, then running was much slower than what is now considered jogging. Thirdly, there was no asphalt, tiles, or even gravel roads at that time, that is, the impact load on the joints was greatly reduced.

Tip: running barefoot is categorically harmful for overweight people. Remember that when landing in running, the foot has a load six times the weight of your body! Walk barefoot, run in well-cushioning sneakers. Those who have no health restrictions should start running barefoot slowly and gradually, from 1 km per day. Pay attention to the intermediate option — the so-called barefoot sneakers, they are also minimalist, or for natural running. In them, the foot is located in the same way as when running barefoot (in ordinary sneakers, the heel is raised by 12 mm or more), it is convenient to land on the toe in them, while the sole still partially absorbs your weight and reliably protects from dirt and glass. And, of course, do not forget that running barefoot on asphalt is dangerous for all joints, including the spine, and does not contribute to anything other than increased attention of others.

Fitness training without shoes: martial arts

In karate, taekwondo, wushu and kickboxing adjacent to them, it is an ancient tradition to practice barefoot. Coming mainly from the fact that most of these martial arts originated in poor countries with a warm climate, where shoes were a luxury. However, modern lessons take place mainly in halls, and trampling on the sweaty footprints of a mass of men and women, of course, is not very hygienic.

Tip: for martial arts there is a special “barefoot shoes” – feet. A little similar to the czechs that we advised for yoga, they also allow you to work with the foot, but they are somewhat more closed and protect the foot from blows on it from above.

Fitness training without shoes: home classes
In barefoot classes, as you have probably already realized, there are two risks: slipping and overloading the foot (speaking of classes at home, the risk of getting infected with fungus, of course, is excluded). Based on this, it is not difficult to select those exercises that can be done barefoot, and those for which shoes are necessary.

Tip: without shoes, you can perform:

* exercises lying down, sitting, on all fours, standing without weights;

* exercises in which you hang or lean on something (on a horizontal bar, bars, rope loops, lunges with support on a chair or a Swedish wall, etc.);

* stretching while sitting, lying, standing at the choreographic machine.

It is recommended to use czechs or feet, performing:

* push-ups, planks (the position of the emphasis on the palms and feet);

* lunges without support;

* dance steps (especially with turns);

* some yoga asanas (in which the legs are wide apart and the feet tend to move out from under you);

* barbell and dumbbell press, dumbbell breeding lying and sitting (normally, at the same time, you should rest your feet on the floor, respectively, the leg can go, and you will fall to the side with a burden).

Finally, it is absolutely impossible to perform standing and jumping exercises without shoes! For example, squats and lunges with a barbell or dumbbells, dumbbell presses or lifting weights standing, jumping rope or through a tire from a car. In all such cases, the foot has a very heavy load, a ligament tear or displacement of bones in the joints may occur. Therefore, be sure to use sneakers that support and protect the foot, half-measures like scales and feet may not save.

And finally: never do fitness in flip-flops and other shoes without a backdrop! This is even riskier than barefoot, since such “shoes” always slip off the foot at the most inopportune moment, including when squatting and walking, which certainly leads to injury.

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