Go barefoot! No, seriously….do it. Take your shoes off, socks too! Maybe don’t smell your feet and definitely take the toe jam out first. This is coming from the Brute Yogi that has some serious foot issues (Anne-Marie, if you haven’t figured it out). Here’s why barefoot rocks:
- Foot and Ankle Warm-up. You have a clear path from your body and its nervous system right to what ever your foot touches. Without the shoes and socks your feet can feel everything underneath and all of the muscles have the opportunity to work in the way that they were designed to work. This travels all the way up the chain, the knees and hips will join the party and pretty soon everything will be working in harmony.
- Proprioception is in its purest form without added distractions. Shoes and socks can mask underlying structural issues as well as the ability to feel the surrounding environment.
- You will get stronger. Your squat, deadlift, presses all will improve in technique alone. If the technique improves the strength will follow. The feet are the foundation of any standing movement, strengthen those puppies and you’ll create a trend along your athletic continuum.
- Posture will improve. Basically see all of the above.
Here’s the deal –
- Safety first! Even with shoes on you wouldn’t want to drop dumbbells, bumpers, iron plates, etc on any part of your body – so be aware of your surrounds and move mindfully. Likewise, you wouldn’t step on sharp glass or nails with shoes on, so there’s little chance of you doing that without (unless of course you’re in to that).
- MRSA! Ok, so it’s a real possibility that the gym floor is gross and thus your feet will also be gross once you’ve walked around barefoot for all of 2 seconds. If you have open sores or cuts on your feet, FOR THE LOVE don’t put anyone, including yourself, in jeopardy of contracting some kind of nastiness. Otherwise it should be pretty safe as long as you wash your feet after being in the gym, which you should probably be doing anyway. Again, coming from the girl who used to get athletes foot from just looking at a bathroom floor, I’ve been nastiness free just from making sure I clean with some good ‘ole fashion soap and water.
- Take it slow. Just like the barefoot running craze, you don’t want to go naked for a marathon right out of the gate. Just do your warm-up, use an empty barbell going through your usual oly routine or squat routine or deadlift routine or whatever it is you do before you hammer out some awesome sweat induced funness in the gym. Maybe work up to adding some weight to the barbell or doing some light jogging back and forth on the gym floor. Don’t go and add your 1RM to the barbell and expect to feel amazing afterwards. There’s potential (not an absolute) that you could injure yourself if you go to heavy, decide to do an entire WOD, go for a 20 minute run or what ever craziness you think up for yourself. Your feet are likely not used to that type of loading and having a set back is worse than spending a little extra time in the gym preparing the body for work.
Reluctantly I went barefoot in the gym after much pressure from the number 1 Brute Yogi (that’s Lisa of course). The first day I knew I was converted. I just owned it, and went full on naked foot for my warm-up and haven’t looked back. It’s been over a month and I can honestly say that I’ve noticed a difference in my sessions at the gym. My feet get super dirty but they’re so nice and warm before I start lifting. I feel like it’s helped increase my over all strength as my joints and muscles feel better as I start adding the weight on the bar and put my shoes back on. It also seems as though I’m recovering faster as well. Whether or not this is due 100% to my decision to go naked footed or not, I know I can attribute at least some of this recent gym success to my feet nudity.