One of the ironies of wearing shoes is that the human body is still engineered to operate barefoot. A large number of muscles aren’t asked to operate when shoes are worn because the job of keeping the foot stable is performed by the shoe instead of the intrinsic muscles of the foot, ankle and lower leg. We wear shoes for comfort and safety, which is appropriate, but a lot of benefits can be achieved if at least some appropriate amounts of your personal training routine are performed without any shoes. If your goal is weight loss, sports performance, or toning or firming up, the benefits can be the same for everybody.
Think of wearing a thick glove on your hand all day and performing your everyday tasks. It isn’t difficult to imagine that by the end of your day you will have used less of your fingers individually and more of your hand as a whole, because your fingers just wouldn’t be available to work like they would if they were free. Your foot is the same way. There are many muscles of the foot, ankle and lower leg that don’t have to work as hard when a shoe is worn. The end effect is that these muscles contribute less and less to movement patterns in the body, and the body becomes less stable and efficient in the lower extremities. In people who are beginning a fitness routine for the first time after a long layoff, the instabilities of the lower leg can lead to injuries.
One of the most basic exercises that can be performed barefoot with almost no chance of injury is balancing on one foot. By standing tall and erect and lifting one foot off the ground, even for 10 to 30 seconds, you will find that a phenomenal amount of effort suddenly is required by the muscles of the foot remaining on the ground. In addition to holding the body upright, the muscles are actually required to balance the body. People most frequently feel their arches doing the most work, along with the muscles of the shin. These are the muscles that shoes take out of the ordinary day to day operation of leg, yet they are designed to be involved with movements like walking or jogging or cycling. By conditioning these muscles, it is amazing how much more powerful the bigger muscles of the legs will feel, because they now have the support of the smaller muscles in place.
You can learn more about how to exercise barefoot by speaking with one of our personal trainers, and be guided through an entire progression of how to use this form of exercise as a permanent part of your routine.