You may have heard mixed opinions as to the safety and benefit of working out barefoot. So, are shoes really necessary for working out at home?
An ab workout should be no longer than half an hour to avoid overstraining your core, although 10-15 minutes is an ideal time frame for a core-targeted routine.
In this guide, we’ll be exploring which at-home workouts require shoes and which ones can benefit from exercising barefoot. Keep reading to learn how to start working out shoeless safely.
So are shoes necessary for home workouts?
Depending on the type of exercise you’re doing and the floor’s surface, shoes aren’t always necessary for working out at home.
There are actually some advantages to switching to barefoot workouts at home, as your feet begin to rely on themselves and get stronger and more stable.
It’s thought that proper barefoot training strengthens you from your feet upwards and can even improve your sense of balance when working out. Certain activities, however, require shoes, or you increase your risk of injury rather than decrease it.
When to almost always ditch wearing shoes?
The following are some instances when you can get a better workout without shoes.
These workout styles allow you to ditch your shoes in a controlled environment where the floor is flat, soft, and clean.
The main way that barefoot workouts reduce the risk of injury is by reducing the excessive force on your feet.
Lunges are an intense exercise in balance, stability, and strength. You can build muscles such as hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads.
Barefoot lunges can help you maintain their delicate balance and stability as they challenge your feet to improve their stability and grip the ground closer.
Make sure to only perform barefoot lunges indoors, on soft mats, or in a level and safe grassy area.
Squats are another at-home workout you should do shoeless to work your ankles and feet fully. Squats require balance, which can be improved by standing barefoot.
But they also require you to keep your feet planted in various positions. It’s easier to grip the floor and get into those positions without getting injured if you take the shoes out of the equation.
Some athletes will switch to a shoeless push-up routine so that they will have more room between their toes when doing push-ups.
Although it may seem unnecessary, being able to spread your toes more easily while doing push-ups keeps your foot muscles from tightening.
In the long run, this can improve your push-up form and help to strengthen you.
There isn’t a huge benefit to get from barefoot deadlifts, but it does make a minor height difference.
Some athletes do this workout shoeless to reach the weight more easily. According to studies conducted regarding shod and barefoot deadlifts (conventional and sumo) among male participants, barefoot deadlifts have the main effect of reducing workload.
You may also improve your balance while doing deadlifts if you’re barefoot.
Pilates, Barre and Yoga
Yoga is one of the most common workout settings where it’s the norm to go barefoot. But you can also improve your form and get a better workout if you do pilates and barre workouts barefoot.
It would help if you had a wide range of motion in your feet for these workout styles, so barefoot is actually better than shod.
When It’s essential to wear shoes
In other workout scenarios, even if you do them in the safety of your home, you absolutely do need to wear shoes.
Otherwise, you risk injuring your feet and connected tendons and muscles, as well as dropping weights on your feet.
Strength training workouts need more support than gentle activities like yoga.
You’re putting your muscles and your whole body under more stress than usual, so having shoes keeps you more stable.
In some cases, you can actually benefit more from shoes like lifting shoes, which lift your heels and improve your lifting form.
Occasionally, runners may go barefoot on a soft beach or safe grass lawn. But, in general, running should involve shoes to protect your feet from dermal injuries (scrapes, cuts, and other wounds).
Shoes, especially cushioned ones, also protect your feet’s midsoles from excessive ground impact, which can lead to injury.
Further, running shoes provide a level of comfort when working out that you don’t get barefoot. This makes a big difference in recovery time before your next run.
Plyometrics or jumping moves
Jumping exercises definitely require the use of shoes because of the risks involved.
This is especially true when jumping rope, where you could accidentally trip or have a foot land on the rope.
You may twist your ankle, bruise your sole, or incur another injury like bruised or painful toes.
The force from your foot to the ground also increases when you are jumping, so you’ll want the comfort of shoe support.
Most stationary bikes and spinning setups may have pedal designs that hurt the soles of your feet upon repeated impact.
This is just one of the reasons to wear shoes when spinning. Further, you’ll need the shoes in order to properly grip the pedals while focusing on your workout.
As for rowing, you’ll also want to wear shoes to protect your feet from injury. Some people worry that wearing shoes will reduce their mobility and ability to put power into the workout.
But in reality, you can find effective cushioned shoes with shorter heels to give you the best of both worlds.
How to start working out shoeless?
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t immediately go from working out shod to working out shoeless every day.
Your feet muscles, as well as your ankles and the rest of your body, will need time to adjust to the change in balance and mobility.
Start by merely walking barefoot for leisure (within your home or backyard is a good start).
Then, you can start doing light, gentle workouts like yoga at home without shoes.
Next, move up to squats and lunges until your feet are strong enough to support deadlifts and more intense barefoot workouts.
What are the risks of working out shoeless?
Working out shoeless – particularly running barefoot – puts one at risk of lowered running stability.
Shoeless workouts also risk surface-level injuries like scrapes and cuts, initial difficulty balancing, and possible infection development.
Are there benefits to working out shoeless?
Shoeless workouts have the potential to improve your stability and balancing skills over time.
They can also benefit you by strengthening your foot muscles and lowering your risk of exercise injuries like shin splints, sprained ankles, and inflammation.
Is it safe to workout shoeless on every surface?
Different surfaces are not as safe to work out on barefoot, such as streets and sidewalks where broken glass, needles, and other waste could injure your feet.
You also want to avoid exercising barefoot on heavily wooded surfaces, where you could roll your foot, get lacerations, or even pick up poison ivy on your skin.
Are shoes necessary for working out at home?
Hopefully, you’re now aware of the types of exercise that safely allow you to go barefoot (and benefit from it), as well as the workout styles that absolutely require shoes.
Always wear shoes for jumping, rowing, spinning, running, and strength training sessions.