barefoot training

what do you guys think about weightlifting, sprinting and other stuff barefoot?

Weightlifting - the sport?

No way. The risks outweigh any possible rewards.
As for running, well I believe Coach Francis mentioned in CFTS that it has some merit…

i’m not only talking about the sport, but about training w weights in general.

the only cons is if a plate falls down on your toes…

weightlifting barefoot isnt the greatest idea for some exercises such as squats. When extra weight is added to the body the arches tend to collapse causing some technical issues. Obviously for upper body weights and other lower body weights, i dont see it being a problem. As for sprinting barefoot there has been discussion on the forum before but it is a bad idea since most people maybe all cant handle the type of forces produced will sprinting barefoot causing injuries. Slower tempo running and drills such as A’s, B’s etc are ok to do and will help strengthen the foot.

I found, even if it’s not good, squating barefoot to be fine for me. What I do is put a little 1.5lb weight under my heel for a little support. Going barefoot allows me to feel the weight better throughout my legs. Thats just me, though. And I havent had any problems with my arch collapsing. (Knock on wood)

That’s the only thing I do barefoot, in the weightroom that is.

I’ve been having problems with my tibialis posterior recently. could that possibly be related to squatting and deadlifting in barefeet??

Whenever possible or reasonable, I had “my” athletes jog a lap or two barefoot on the grass infield to warmdown. It was like a massage from the feet which worked right up through the legs … one of my early coaches was an old Hungarian, Garbor Gero, who used to tell us it “puts vitamins into your feet” - seriously, it was some sort of neural stimulation I suppose, but it is a fantastic thing to do post-track session.

I must respectfully disagree about “the only con” to weightlifting - the sport - is dropping something on your feet.

Doing a heavy snatch or clean barefoot, while having your foot smash into the hardwood platform is not healthy for your foot, nor for the rest of your ankle or knees…

That is why I believe that the risks outweigh the rewards here. As mentioned above, if strengthening the arches of your feet is a goal, why not just tempo run barefoot?

When you run with sprint spikes on, practically barefoot, you encounter forces upward of what 7x your body weight? So this isn’t a problem but squatting/cleaning,etc, where people are lucky to be around 2-3x bodyweight, is a great risk??

Doing things barefoot is always better for your ankles and knees also. Wearing just about anything on your feet alters the way your body would naturally absorb forces. Having any kind of heel lift is going to cause one to absorb much more forces through the heel and then up the chain as opposed to being barefoot. When you are barefoot the majority of forces is NEVER absorbed through the heel.

Primary benefit of shoes is added friction, not decreased force absorption.

The population who encounters loss of arches the most is those who wear bulky shoes. If one accustoms theirself to doing things barefoot dropped arches is of no concern. Dropped arches are a result of weak feet. This is why you take someone who’s feet have been in cinder blocks for years ala their arches have probably dropped some. And you change their footwear and get them doing a good amount of barefoot things their feet will probably lose .5 to a full shoe size from gaining their arches back.

I don’t understand how early man sprinted through jungles and deserts over sticks, rocks and god knows what else, yet now humans aren’t capable of running on a soft rubberized track or doing anything else but walk/jog barefoot???

Kiwi kids at huge risk of physical damage by going barefoot
Fri, 28 Mar 2008 05:52p.m.

Thousands of Kiwi kids spend their summers without shoes, but now a podiatrist has warned they could be doing irreversible damage by going barefoot in the sun.

John Miller says running school cross-country races barefooted is particularly damaging, and can make children’s feet wider.

Bare feet - how many of us spent our childhood summers this way not realising we could damage our feet, have them increase in size and even get wider.

Podiatrist John Miller is keen to point out that children’s feet are not smaller versions of adults.

“And the significance of the injuries they have ranges from kids who are just too sore to continue playing - this results actually in a decrease in their activity rather than the increase that we’re looking for right through to kids who are so painful they can’t walk for a day or two.”

So are Kiwi kids feet wider than their overseas counterparts? Shoe specialists agree that Kiwi kids have wider feet.

It may not sound important, but Miller reckons that running barefoot causes problems in later life.

“But these injuries the kids are sustaining while running, doing their cross country in bare feet, have far more significant impact when later in life they lose their mobility.”

Putting the risks aside, there are some who go barefoot and succeed - like film director, Peter Jackson. However remember the case of Zola Budd, the tiny South African athlete who ran barefoot at the Olympics. She crashed in the final - who knows what would have happened if she had worn shoes?

there is video at the link as well

Arches falling is a result of weak arches but will also occur from loads put onto the legs, ie weights and sprinting.

Running on grass does not compare to a rubberized track, even though it seems soft it is still a lot harder and thats were you get the rebound to run from.


I still think you might be missing my point.
(Disclaimer - I am not a scientist, but I’ll do my best to find the math to back up my claim)

You posted “When you run with sprint spikes on, practically barefoot, you encounter forces upward of what 7x your body weight? So this isn’t a problem but squatting/cleaning,etc, where people are lucky to be around 2-3x bodyweight, is a great risk??”

I would argue (again, I know I need the math to back this up) that your comparison is not fair. I believe the forces encountered when, say a 77kg lifter squat cleans a 160kg clean, and then has to jerk it, that lifter is encountering forces of a much larger nature than you think. In fact, I would compare it to the forces encountered when doing depth jumps - which I also wouldn’t recommend doing barefooted.

Once again, I don’t think that lifting barefoot, for the competitive weightlifter, has any benefit that outweighs the risks.

Thousands of Kiwi kids spend their summers without shoes, but now a podiatrist has warned they could be doing irreversible damage by going barefoot in the sun.

I would like to see a country where kids do not go barefoot in the summer.

If you can find me some high quality video, viewed from either straight on or from 90 degrees to the side (in .mpeg) of a weightlifter, I can give you a pretty good estimate of the forces needed. I’ll need to know the height/weight of the athlete and the weight being lifted.


Thanks for the offer…I’ve been doing a quick search of on-line journals, and I’ve come across numerous “ground reaction force” studies for weightlifting for both the foot and knee.
Although it was harder, I’ve got a few regarding sprinting, but I don’t have access to all of the journals. The ones I do see mainly involve sprinters coming out of blocks - and over the first 10-20 meters; but I think I need top speed of a sprinter for my statement to be fully validated.

I’ll keep looking…

I certainly don’t have any research to back up my belief but I would think barefoot running, particularly at tempo paces/easy warm-ups would be mostly a safe proposition.

I wonder if a large number of the millions of kids around the world who move about mostly, if not entirely, barefoot during childhood create long term damage to their feet?

Could be, but I am doubtful of it, especially for those who are mostly on smooth fields.

How long are these runs? If it is cross-country in the very long distance scenario, doing anything long distance is never healthy. And what injuries are being encountered? I didn’t think wider than average feet was an injury.

I think this is a good point as everyone I knew and grew up with ran around barefoot all summer. I would think that would be ok, because there not running miles and miles. Barefoot drills and slow tempo are a great idea above that I wouldnt advise.

I totally agree. People are soft. But there’s more to it. Think about it from a business point of view – podiatrists (and every other industry positively related to them) would love people to have weaker feet. It means more potential customers and hence more money.

The internet is reducing the information gap and as a result all of these industries that make their money through knowledge (in particular healthcare and health services) need to think of better and better ways to keep “customers” coming back. The “wide-feet” hypothesis is just one example. SOME particular pharmaceuticals is another. Obesity drugs?

There are plenty of conditions (probably the majority) that require a healthcare professional’s consultation BUT a lot of stuff (namely “wide-feet” or other such bullshit theories, or obesity) can be solved with common sense. Like “Yes, if you exercise you WILL lose weight given that you’re fat now”.

Or “Yes, if you walk around and do more stuff (apart from step on glass and syringes) barefoot then your feet WILL get stronger”. ;).