Fortnightly Note

Training Barefoot


From time to time I get questions about my short instruction videos. Often it's not about the content of a particular video, but rather about why I'm training barefoot.

I haven't always always done so, but started training barefoot in early 2013 when I discovered kettlebells. In the time since then, I've discovered more benefits of training barefoot. On those occasions when I've travelled and used a hotel gym, where they've required shoes in the gym, I have noticed a significant difference.

However, if you're going to train barefoot, you must start working on making sure that your feet are both mobile enough (not too mobile) and strong. The video contains a few things you can do to work on this.

I'll often hear people tell me that they need orthotics in their shoes because they have collapsed arches, with all the knock-on effects up the kinetic chain (sore knees, sore hips, lower back pain, kneck pain and even headaches). When I ask the question, they tell me that they ALWAYS wear shoes.

The solution is to try barefoot training. When you take away the stability of a shoe that acts like a plaster cast on your feet, you're forced to build stronger arches and more functional feet. Your hips, knees and lower back will thank you.

I go so far as to walk the half mile to and from my kids' school barefoot. This garners many a question from a little person about why I'm not wearing shoes. This makes me smile, but also makes me a bit sad because I seldom wore shoes as a little kid and the results in stronger feet are still with me.

Some people go so far as to ditch their running shoes and do all their running barefoot. This doesn't work for everyone because we've spent years wearing shoes and have adaptive shortening of muscles and tendons as a result.

Instead of running barefoot, I advise most people to run in shoes, but to spend as much time barefoot as possible across an average day.

Will Newton

In over twenty years of coaching, I have coached everyone from absolute beginners to world champions. My interest in getting the best results for people who train for health and fitness or the love of sport, rather than as professionals, drives me to find the most effective ways to get results. My mission is simple: Be in better shape at 70 than most people are at 20, and to help you do the same.

  • Started practicing yoga in my late 30’s, doing something barefoot for the first time. It was quite a shift, and thanks to this article’s explanation, I know that I’m better off. Thanks!!

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