Something I’m fairly certain you probably don’t do enough of? Training while barefoot.
Don’t feel bad about it.
Most people never train barefoot.
We forget the fun we had while we were children.
The feeling of bare feet on soft grass in the summer.
Walking on the beach, almost burning our feet, but feeling the warm sand flow between your toes.
Running on hard surfaces without it hurting.
Yes, sure, it can be uncomfortable.
We hear, over and over again, how “our arches need support“. Especially if you’re a runner.
But do they?
As the article from Britannica describes, certain arches built from wedges become more resilient as the load increases(!).
Then there’s the fact that the arches in our feet are supported by muscles and tendons.
So, if we stop loading our arches, give them a rest with some solidly arched shoes, what will happen to the muscles that support them?
They’ll probably atrophy and get weak, right?
Training barefoot for better arches
During a training session today, a colleague of mine mentioned how a significant number of kids he coaches have no visible arches when they move.
Think about that for a second… (We’ll wait!)
Some of the reasons for this could be genetics and isn’t something you can easily remedy.
But often, the reason has to do with the fact that we’re not using our feet all that much.
The arch in our foot is part of an extremely complex (yet simple) impact absorption system.
Like most things in the body, the arches exist to help protect your brain from impact (just try running barefoot, but with heel-strikes).
Collapsed arches – aka fallen arches/flat feet – will cause ankle pronation (they point inwards). Pronated ankles can result in knee valgus. Knee valgus can lead to hip problems.
All of these, both alone and combined, messes with the leg’s ability to absorb impact efficiently.
All-in-all, we probably want to avoid collapsed arches!
One way to indirectly help avoid this is to train barefoot every now and then.
Training barefoot will help you learn the movement patterns that work best for you when it comes to absorbing impact.
It should also help you with the simple activity of walking.
Now, like all things with the body, you can’t – obviously – go out and run for miles while barefoot. That is, unless you’ve trained your feet (arches) to handle the load.
Over-use is over-use, regardless of what “nature intended” (it never intended for you to do something dumb like a 5 mile run, barefoot, without any training and get away with it!).
If your feet are flat already, do your research. Then go see a physical therapist to learn how to train yourself back (to as close to your previous arch-state as possible).
If you haven’t succeeded in flattening your feet already, well done!
Let’s keep it that way, shall we?
There are tons of resources online to help you, but I’m personally a fan of simply living more of my life barefoot.
A great place to start is in the gym.
Be warned though, you may d
So, step out of the shoes, take of those socks, and feel the gym floor under your feet.
Let’s get cracking with some training, shall we?