Should You Exercise Barefoot? (3 Things To Be Aware Of)


I had a great conversation with one of my coaches about working out barefoot last week. I’ve actually been working out at home in socks lately and was thinking that I’d do a post on the subject, since there’s a lot out there on the pros & cons of working out without shoes. If you’re thinking about working out barefoot, here are three things to consider: 


1. Know Your Workout Surface

If you’re going to experiment with working out barefoot, take stock of the floor you will be working out on first. Some flooring is more or less suitable for working out barefoot, and being aware of this beforehand can prevent injury! I workout daily in my apartment which has hard wood flooring, so I tend to wear sneakers or socks at a minimum if I’m going to be doing a T25 or 21 Day Fix workout. I tried working out barefoot to a T25 Gamma workout and got a pretty painful blister on my big toe afterwards!


pronation-supination (1)

2. Know Your Feet

Do you have flat feet? High arches? How your feet are built can also impact whether working out barefoot works for you. In the picture above, the left side shows a flat foot where the foot rolls inward, also called “over-pronation”. If you have flat feet then your feet may roll inward in which case working out barefoot could put your ankles and lower leg muscles at risk. The foot pictured to the right shows a foot that supinates, or rolls outwards, also causing strain of the ankle and lower leg muscles/tendons. I have fairly flat feet, but have found that working out in socks is okay most of the time. If you try working out barefoot and find that you’re feeling pain in your ankles- stop! It’s likely a sign that your ankles/leg muscles need more support.

flow3. Know Your Options

There are several sneakers on the market now that are designed to give you the feel of running barefoot. Many runners and fitness enthusiasts swear by Vibram FiveFinger sports shoes, which simulate the feeling of running barefoot while giving your feet extra protection. New Balance and Nike also offer minimalist sports shoes that are lightweight and give the feeling of running barefoot.

I’ve really enjoyed working out in socks at home- I land my burpees a lot better and weight bearing exercises like squats and lunges are easier. I haven’t committed to going barefoot outside though- maybe some Vibrams are in my future? 😉

SHARE: Do you exercise barefoot or in socks at home? Do you use minimalist sports shoes like Vibrams? What do you think about “minimalist” workout shoes? -CFC


About ChicFitChef

My "deserted island" checklist: a BCBG dress, a healthy & diabetic-friendly meal and a few workout DVDs. ;-)
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11 Responses to Should You Exercise Barefoot? (3 Things To Be Aware Of)

  1. David says:

    I generally work out barefoot. My floors are carpeted, and I feel like the surface is soft enough to provide cushion and still maintain enough friction for planks and similar exercises

  2. Cheimon says:

    Make sure you break in your Vibrams gently! My first excursion with them was a brisk walk through Central Park… the combination of friction where there was none before and sand where there was definitely none before led to a very, very painful rest of the week. If I ever put them on again, it’ll be with a protective layer of FiveFinger socks! (Though I get carpet burn from working out even in socks, so maybe my feet just live a supremely sheltered life.)

  3. Sabrina says:

    I exercise with shoes on…. But occasionally, I get cramps on the outsides of my feet. Does anyone have any suggestions of what the reason may be or how to prevent it?

    • ChicFitChef says:

      Hey Sabrina! Do you have high foot arches? It sounds like your feet may be rolling outward- which sometimes happens when you have high arches. You might need a sports sneaker for high arches- maybe check one out at a runners shop?

  4. Great post. I came across yours right after I posted mine, also about working out barefoot;

  5. Jeyna Grace says:

    I know this is a rather old post, but I just thought of sharing my experience. I workout barefoot at home on tiles. I did Insanity, Insanity: Max 30, Insanity Asylum Vol. 1, and now Insanity Asylum Vol. 2. When I first started working out barefoot, my feet hurt a little. Eventually, it toughened up and I could do all the workouts without pain. Now that I’ve started Insanity Asylum Vol. 2, my feet started to hurt again. Asylum Vol.2 has a lot of foot work and I struggle to finish the workout. So I think I’ll take your route and try working out with socks.

    Working out barefoot is certainly way better than in shoes, in my opinion. But at the end of the day, it really depends on the intensity of the workout. My feet does not seem ready for 50 minutes of quick feet exercises yet. Hopefully, it won’t hold me back for the rest of the program.

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