There’s a good bit of talk these days about Barefoot training and barefoot running. In today’s post, I’m going to address a few keys points, both good and bad, about Barefoot training and running.

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The Performance U Approach to Barefoot Training

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Having been a long time martial artist, I’ve always preferred to exercise without shoes. As a coach, I’ve also always encouraged my athletes to perform much of their strength & conditioning training without shoes as well.

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Some athletes are not comfortable training without shoes. Others (when not training with me) train at gyms who have a “no barefoot” policy. In cases like these, I encourage them to at least perform their Dynamic Warm Up without shoes. Especially the CNS Activation portion of the Warm Up! This can usually be done in the yoga room or group-X room at your local gym.

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If you’re not familiar with the Performance U approach to Dynamic Warm Up – Check the Warm Up Progressions Vol.1-3 video series.

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CNS Cover-1 - GOOD

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Why Use Barefoot Training?

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The truth is, there is no research to justify the claims that shoes create postural problems, movement dysfunctions or a lack of body awareness and/or proprioception. But, we do have our common sense!

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Humans are born without shoes. So, it only makes sense that we don’t “need” shoes and may be better off without them. Also, when convincing certain athletes of the importance of Barefoot training, I like to tell them to imagine how dull their sense  of touch would be if they wore gloves all day long.

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Plus, the feet, along with the hands and face, have the highest amount of proprioceptive receptors than other place in the body.

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So, my advice to all healthy athletes is to avoid wearing shoes as much as possible when training, just walking around and chilling at your the house.

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Born to Run, But not…

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There are a few instances which I don’t recommend barefoot training.

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First, if you have any specific foot dysfunctions requiring shoe orthotics such as pronation syndrome -Walking, running and training with out corrective footwear will only worsen existing foot dysfunctions.

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My second point of contention on the Barefoot training movement is about Barefoot running. Or, more specifically, running while wearing Vibram Five Fingers.

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Since the Book “Born to Run” was published, it sparked a huge movement toward running in these Vibram Five Fingers.

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Here’s the problem – Yes… we are born to run. But, we are NOT born to run on concrete pavement!

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We are born to run on dirt, grass, sand, mud and other natural earth surfaces. All of which have a certain amount of “give”. Concrete however, has no “give” and will tear up joints if you don’t have some extra padding from a modern day running shoe. Plus, if you add in the fact that most folks who begin a running program  are usually weak, slightly overweight, full of movement dysfunctions and are generally out of shape – running on concrete with no padding is a recipe for disaster!

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Remember – “Don’t run to get fit, get fit to run”.

In this case, a better saying would be – “don’t barefoot run to get fit, get fit to barefoot run”

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So, don’t throw out your fancy modern day running shoes! Nike Free’s running shoes are a great choice for a padded but “free moving” running shoe.

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A Word From the Style Police!

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style_police_landscapeOn a less technical note. Why are folks wearing these silly looking Vibram Five Finger shoes to do daily tasks like going to the mall or to walk the dog? Training in Vibrams is one thing. But, wearing them as a part of your normal, everyday wordrobe is another.

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Have we forgotten that sandals offer more freedom of foot movement than any other shoes and still allow you to look cool?

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What are your thoughts on today’s post and Barefoot training/running?