I like doing workouts barefoot, when I can. When I teach my Zoom T60Fit home fitness classes, I encourage my class to do the workout barefoot.
Why no shoes
It seems counter intuitive to a workout, but here are a few things to think about.
1. We weren’t born with shoes on.
2. Shoes prevent our toes from moving freely.
3. Our ability to move our ankles may be limited by our shoes.
4. We never feel the ground below us in the same way we feel when we are barefoot. We feel surfaces with our hands all the time so why not our feet?
5. Our own home doesn’t subject ourselves to someone else’s or a gyms dirt.
6. Obstacles that could injury our feet can be moved or avoided in our own home.
Here’s how working out barefoot can help your feet.
1. Improves flexibility of your feet, including your toes.
2. Improves muscle strength in your feet and ankles, which is very important as we age.
3. Improves proprioception, or awareness of the position of your feet and you touch the ground.
Looking at your feet can tell you so much
1. You can tell if your feet are aligned and toes pointed forward or to the side. Think that hip tilt to hold a baby or grocery bag – does your foot turn out? Do you always do it on the same hip and foot? Hmmm.
2. You can see the differences in foot alignment and correct the foot that may be out of alignment if you know you are doing it.
When your feet are in shoes all the time, you begin to lose sensory stimulation which can lead to muscle weakening.
You should wear your shoes during a workout when…
1. Your healthcare provider says you should wear your shoes. Remind them if you are doing your workout at home in a safe location.
2. You are doing any impact exercises and need shock absorption provided by your shoes, such as jumping or running.
3. There are objects around you that could injury your foot.
For people with diabetes or other nerve issues in your foot, I like spending time barefoot ONLY if the environment is safe for the feet. Because sensations may be diminished or absent with neuropathy, there can be injury to the foot. So please be careful.
If you are not so sure about doing a workout barefoot, you might consider a foot massage – you can do it yourself. Trust me, it can be an alternative to that pedicure massage. You can also try scrunching up a towel with your toes as another way to exercise your feet and toes. Give your toes their own workout by spreading them, flexing them up and down and maybe even stand on your tip toes while you are in the kitchen. We are on them everyday, so give them some love.
Strength, flexibility and balance – head to toe!
My favorite foot exercise – drawing circles
One of my favorite foot exercise is pointing your toes and pretend you are making a circle, rotate one direction and then the other. Repeat 10 – 15 times each way. This is fun to do while watching TV or sitting at your desk. You can even practice drawing letters with your foot and writing out a word. Imagine A-Z for your flex-i-bil-ity… Hey, that kinda rhymes.