At the age of 25 I bought my first pair of running shoes. Around that time I decided to change my habits and work out on a regular basis. I used my shoes for around two years, until they fell apart. After that I bought a new pair of running shoes, that I used for another two years. They were light-weight and had some cushioning, that seemed to make runs on concrete easier. About a year ago I started with HIIT training. I trained two to five times outside close to the shore. The warm-up usually consists out of five to ten minutes of skipping the rope on a concrete surface. I was new to the exercise and after some moments of skipping, my feet cramped like crazy.
Some weeks later I took my shoes off during the warm-up and skipped the rope barefoot. No cramps this time, but my calves were sore like never before on the next day. I researched more about the topic and learned a lot about the advantages of barefoot running. Since running shoes tend to prevent us from using the whole foot, they don’t challenge the muscles in our calves and under our feet during training. Also barefoot runners have less contact with the ground and prevent their bodies from high impacts, that can lead to knee injury or other damages. I thought:“ Either I am going to buy pricy barefoot running shoes or I just try without. I decided to stick to the second option, since I want to live more minimalist and also because I like to keep things as simple and natural as possible.
So I kept doing HIIT without shoes until it got really cold in December. In February I started to train barefoot again. I also tried barefoot runs on concrete and walked barefoot on a regular basis. Every time I go to surf, I have to walk barefoot from my house until I reach the spot. Of course I walk barefoot at home and do my yoga practice and my pilates practice barefoot.
Random information: Many of my students refuse to practice barefoot in the beginning. I still didn’t figure out, if they find it embarrassing, not comfy or too cold. Another thing that I observe is, that many people, who start training barefoot, can’t really spread their toes in the beginning. I am not an orthopedist, but I think that decades of wearing tight shoes or not functional shoes (flip flops, high heels, wedges) change the mobility of our ankles and toes.
First of all it is really comfy, to work out barefoot. I feel my feet breathe and my balance improved a lot. Also I got more muscle under my feet, which is a great advantage during surfing or skating sessions. In my opinion barefoot runs toned my calves and changed the way I run. I also grew more skin under my feet. Opposed to what most people think, the extra skin does not look disgusting and doesn’t feel bad or rough. The skin is just a little thicker and prevents me from injuries and having pain. Right now I can walk over small stones, shells, hot or cold surfaces and even glass and I absolutely don’t feel it. This sensation is really nice, since it made me realize, that I don’t need extra tools like special, pricy shoes for enjoying my workout!
By the way today I watched A Moving Conversation. It is basically an interview with the mover Ido Portal (if you don’t know, what the hack a mover is, watch this short video). In the interview he states: “The better the shoes, the worse are the feet.” I totally agree with that. In my opinion we need to explore our bodies again and stop wearing gadgets, that stop our feet, hands or spine from fulfilling the function they originally had!
How do you run and work out? Do you avoid shoes? Do you run in DIY sandals or do you have a completely different point of view?
I am Julia, vegan by heart, traveler and minimalist based in beautiful Portugal. I love simple but delicious food, ashtanga, skating, surfing and having a nice conversation over snacks and a glass of wine. I am blogging about vegan food, my minimalist journey, life hacks and my experiences as a traveler.