Athletic shoes protect the foot and ankle by limiting range of motion. However, socks and shoes interfere with communication between your feet and brain about how your body moves – like position, speed and direction (known as proprioception). The brain returns information to the body, telling it how to adjust. Without interference, feedback travels faster and more efficiently, allowing your body to correct more quickly, improve stability, prevent injury and improve performance.
The more information you can get from your feet, the stronger, more flexible and adaptive you become. Training with bare feet develops intrinsic muscles. You are more focused and have more control – but you must work harder to keep your body upright and balanced. Everything is engaged: your core, your glutes, and your hips. With all muscles activated and weight distributed appropriately, muscle force production improves. Now stronger, focused, engaged and connected, you will be better able to assess and improve weaknesses.
Common Sense Must Prevail
Barefoot training should be done in a proper, safe environment:
- Be cognizant of increased risk of bacterial or fungal infections
- Consider artificial turf, courts and rubberized floors that offer a firm but forgiving surface
- Wear shoes if mechanical issues exist in your foot or if you suffer neuropathy
- Consider working with a professional trainer with expertise and experience
Ready to Get Started?
Simply begin barefoot training by incorporating it into your warmup. Don’t rush. If added too quickly, you increase the risk of the pain and injury that you are trying to heal and prevent. Implement the following one at a time:
- Run on turf
- Work on balance discs
- Roll each foot with a lacrosse ball with light pressure for a minute or so while seated
- Progress with various walking patterns
- Add mobility drills as you adjust to increased balance and stability
- Include body weight movements
- Vary the positions of your feet
If added to your program properly, barefoot training is an effective method of improving the communication between your feet and brain, allowing you to become stronger, more flexible, stable, balanced and adaptive – which contributes to better performance and prevention of injury.
For more information on RPG Training Systems, and to read the complete article on barefoot training, visit us online at www.rpgtriningsystems.com.
Finally, RPG would like to send out a big congratulations to all of the athletes that completed the inaugural High Performance Volleyball program with Coach Melissa Bartlett of Western University and RPG’s Coach Rory.
Dr. J. Craig Hunt, D. Ch. Hunt Footcare. London, ON
Submitted by Coach Rory Kosonic, Owner, RPG Training Systems