Being Barefoot

How strong are your FEET?

When a person hurts his or her shoulder, he might wear a sling for a little while. But what always happens to that sling? Eventually it comes off so muscles in the shoulder can be strengthened and the arm used again. The same idea applies to a person’s feet. You likely own a pair of running or walking shoes that are comfortable to you, but in the same way that a shoulder sling limits range of motion and strength, those shoes may limit how your feet are able to interact with the ground and get stronger.

Stronger feet and ankles improve balance and the foundation a body has in its connection to the ground. 

There are 29 muscles associated with the human foot; (10 foot/ankle and 19 intrinsic.) Ten of these muscles originate outside of the foot itself but cross the ankle joint to influence stability and balance. The other 19 muscles are referred to as intrinsic muscles of the foot and operate only within the foot. They all serve various roles in gait and posture, and are also aided by the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. Its job is to support the arch of the foot and absorb shock when walking. Any condition or injury that disrupts the way these tissues work greatly impacts the normal functioning of the foot and ankle. All of this to say that your feet and ankles have a pretty complicated structure, just like most areas of our bodies. 

You may remember the PPC team discussing all of the marketing jargon that even a well-trusted company like Asics uses to describe the technologies in their running shoes. These phrases are referring to technologies that “lock your heel in place”, or “correct over-pronation.” It’s a shoe company’s job to sell you a product, but they can’t possibly individualize what’s best for every person. Most shoes today are designed to lock in your foot. They want to minimize movement inside the shoe, stop pronation, or correct some other perceived flaw. The problem with this is that your feet were designed to spread out and allow all those muscles to grip the ground to keep you stable. Maybe you do need some sort of correction, maybe you only need it temporarily like a shoulder sling after an injury, or maybe you have the freedom to let your feet behave like they were designed to and you just don’t know it yet. 

Have you ever considered a challenge or a workout for your feet? Just by spending a little extra time barefoot in your day, you can happily know that you’re strengthening those intrinsic muscles and building load tolerance in the plantar fascia and surrounding bones. And just like returning to the gym after months or years away, it’s important to start slowly! A safe place to start is to gradually increase the time you spend barefoot in the comfort of your own home (before and after a shower, as an example). Another simple way to add a foot workout to your life is to simply kick off your shoes during your regular workout.

If you habitually do planks, squats, lunges and other common exercises, you’ll be happy to know that just by doing all of that barefoot you’ll be strengthening your foot intrinsics at the same time!

Note how you feel during and after your barefoot minisessions... There should NEVER be any pain associated with this. If it hurts, something is wrong and we highly recommend a personalized recommendation for your particular situation. It is really important to note that this foot strengthening is meant to be a slow process. You’ve probably spent years or decades walking in shoes that didn’t allow your feet to spread out and be strong, so don’t shock them by going barefoot all the time. Just like any other part of your body, your feet, ankles, and the rest of your kinetic chain will have to adapt to the new load you’ve created in order to increase your body’s capacity. If you have any questions please reach out because we would love to help you make a plan for you and your circumstances.


Spend some time barefoot at home where you are comfortable, or ask us about kicking off your shoes when you come in for a training or clinical session.

Peak Performance Care

in Sonora CA

13949 Mono Way

PO Box 4143

Sonora, CA 95370


(209) 532 1288

Fax: (209) 230 9529

Monday/Wednesday: 8am-5:30pm

Tuesday/Thursday: 6am-5pm

Friday: 6am-2pm

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