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Barefoot Workout!!??

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Recently I started looking for a pair of new workout shoes.  Mine have been torn to shreds thanks to Insanity and Focus: T25.  While researching the best workout shoes I was given some great suggestions, mainly Reebok Crossfit shoes or Nike Free were the two that stood out.  Unfortunately both shoes were well out of my price range for workout shoes, so I began to look elsewhere.  Scanning facebook one day I read a post from Shaun T about how he workouts out barefoot.  BAREFOOT??, how in the world could anyone do Insanity or Focus: T25 without shoes?  Impossible.  Needless to say the more I researched it the more I realized there are a lot of people working out with no shoes.  Hmmm, I’ve seen Arnold Schwarzenegger do it, so it must not be that bad, so I tried it.

Now into my 4th week of working out barefoot I can honestly say, “I LOVE IT!!”  I was a little skeptical at first but the more I tried the more comfortable I got and the better it felt.

So what does research suggest about working out with out shoes?  Are there any benefits?  Is it safe?  Well, here’s what I found.

“According to an article from the running website Barefootrunninghq.com, a traditional exercise shoe has a heel that alters your center of gravity, shifting the weight forward. Your body compensates for this shift by exaggerating the lumbar curve and overextending your back. Additionally, the cushioning and shock absorption present in many running shoes doesn’t help while lifting weights. Rather, the foam compresses unevenly, causing the lift to be unstable.”  K.J. Castle Demand Media (healthyliving.com)

“We actually have an innate natural shock absorption system in our foot that has become lazy. Our foot is designed to absorb shock. Fancy shoes with all fancy technology throw off your stability, so you work twice as hard to counter that instability,” Dr. Emily Splichal, podiatrist and national fitness expert (Fox News/health)

So there you have it, workout barefoot can actually help you stay safe from injury, get you great strength and help prevent leg and back pain.  So why not give it a try and see how you like it.

 My first suggestion is to only go barefoot if you’re like myself and workout at home.  Mainly because most gyms I’ve ever been to wouldn’t allow you to workout without shoes, especially with the possibility for injury or the spreading of infections.  Secondly, I would start off slow by incorporating some barefoot workouts and then as your feet get stronger you can use barefoot exercise on a daily routine.  Thirdly, reconsider working out barefoot if you’re going to use a hard surface like hardwood or concrete, this could cause potential problems.  I recommend that if you’re going to workout with no shoes, just make sure it’s on carpet or you can do what I did and buy a package of interlocking, 1/2 inch thick workout mats.  They work great.  

If you’re not barefoot ready, another options is to buy a pair of vibram or similar brand shoes.  These type of shoes still give you the barefoot sensation, but with more grip on your feet.

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