Strength Performance Network

Think it doesn't matter what kind of shoes you wear?


BS, it does matter. I hate seeing all these shocks and high heal shoes on everyone. Plus what is this fad about not tying your shoes and letting them flop around on your feet? Anyway. Here is my point. When you are doing any lower body posterior chain movement, you need your heal as close to the ground as possible. We take our shoes off for all dead lifts and hip thrusters. Even on some squats we'll take shoes off, just to emphasis push off your heal and driving up. Has made a huge difference. When your heal is on the ground your hamstring and glutes will fire quicker. Plus it will help with flexibility and dorsi flexion in your ankles, which is very poor in many athletes.


What do you think? Shoes on? Shoes off?

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Comment by Josh W on March 28, 2011 at 5:53pm

OFF! Vibram's are the way to go IMO

Comment by Jesse Webber on March 25, 2011 at 4:41pm

Because I have worn athletic shoes all my life, I now have fallen arches.  So I do believe people need to train barefoot (to maintain foot stability and am somewhat in Jason's camp.


I, however, need to always have my orthotic inserts in my shoes.  When I lift, I wear my weightlifting shoes with my inserts and I am solid.  I will occasionally do some light barefoot lunges to help build some stability, but since I am already "100% compensated" I will depend on support for the rest of my lift.  So, really, barefoot training is out for me.  Not really scientific, just my experience.

Comment by Jason Roe on March 25, 2011 at 1:42pm

Hello TJ,

I feel like we are reaching the peak of the barefoot craze. We have to be careful when a new idea comes along or a very old idea resurfaces or is recycled (i.e. kettlebells). Do most athletic shoes have too much lift an padding? Yes? Should everyone train barefoot? Emphatically no! While the human foot is designed to absorb force quite well if someone has worn shoes all their life suddenly switching to barefoot training will most likely lead to injury, the body needs time to adapt. Next, while the skin on the soles of the feet is generally thicker and tougher than other areas it is still just a very thin layer of soft tissue, an athlete would risk injury and could more easily spead fungal, bacterial, or viral infection training barefoot, especially if they train indoors. Finally, the bone structure in the feet of some individuals will require footwear or orthotics to provide adequate support and attenuation of ground reaction forces.


I have yet to see any studies that would support the contention that being barefoot would improve nerve conduction velocity along the innervation pathways of the gluteal or hamstrings muscle groups or enhance the rate cross-bridge cycling in those muscles that would make those muscles "fire quicker".


Shoes may provide some restriction of ankle joint ROM, but again, being barefoot would not automatically enhance ROM. Increases in range of motion would depend on what is limiting range of motion including but not limited to muscular tension or capsular/connective tissue tightness, and specific interventions would be required to address these issues.


Where I work we have soft indoor field turf. We have athletes with no orthopaedic lower extremity issues perform a very limited amount of the early warm period in stocking or barefeet. Removing the 1/2 to 1 inch cushion provided by the shoes does provide a novel stimulus. When combined with movement it may (and this is a big may) enhance ROM, the strength of muscles of the lower extremity, particulaly the lower leg, and provide a unique prorioceptive challenge. But, if an athlete has to perform their sport in shoes, we should probably train them in shoes. I think many people have taken barefoot training too far. 


Just becasue some indigenous people's from around the world or "Paleolithic man" currently are or went barefoot doen't mean everyone should. Are ancestors at some point ate meat raw, but I'm in no hurry to get rid of my oven.


Because this is the internet, where you can't type tone, I want to note that I do not mean to insult you in any way. These are simply my thoughts. In some respects I agree with you, but again, I think everyone needs to step back and really evaluate the claims being thown about regarding this and many other training issues.   

Comment by Karsten Jensen on March 25, 2011 at 1:17pm

Dear TJ,

I agree with you! However, if you by taking your shoes off mean doing the exercise in socks the issue of suficient friction and hygiene come into play. Here are the guidelines I typically use.

1: All standing exercises, except squats below parallel, is prefereably done in vibramfivefingers

2: When squatting below parallel, an regular olympic weightlifting shoe, seem to help athletes maintain a straigth back.

Best Regards,






Here is my opinion

Comment by Bing Fu on March 24, 2011 at 12:16pm
Definitely not a fan of Shox or other super cushioned shoes that relax the foot or otherwise interfere with it's proper function.. but barefoot or barefoot-esque training may be an issue of time, convenience, budget, logistics and all of that.

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