January 12, 2023

Many of us who exercise on a regular basis kow how a lack of variety can make a fitness routine feel tired and stale. Running on a treadmill is one of the most popular exercises for fitness enthusiasts at any level, but sometimes even a classic could benefit from a break from the usual.

Many people are curious about the benefits of running barefoot on a treadmill, and might even be cautious about tossing aside wearing their trusty running shoes in favor of going barefoot. However, running and walking barefoot has become increasingly popular and comes with proven benefits.

Minimalist running simply feels more free, and running barefoot is as natural an exercise as it can get: humans have been doing it for centuries. There are some conflicting opinions about how barefoot walking or running changes these benefits, and we're here to set the record straight.

Today, we'll explain everything you need to know about walking barefoot on a treadmill. By the end, we hope you'll discover all of the hidden benefits of a barefoot walk on a treadmill, as well taking its few risks into consideration.

Benefits of walking or running barefoot on a treadmill

Natural running or walking without wearing shoes has many benefits including:

You burn more calories

Besides heart and mental health, burning calories is one of the top reasons people do any cardio exercise at all, and this part can be maximized if you do it barefoot.

The exact reason why more calories are burned during barefoot walking or running isn't super clear, but it might have something to do with the fact that running barefoot improves speed while forcing you to engage different muscles that are not utilized when wearing shoes.

You run faster than you would with running shoes. You also tend to run for longer periods of time, boosting your calorie-burning returns.

Your balance, posture and comfort improve

Walking or running on a treadmill barefoot forces your posture to remain elevated. When you wear shoes, you might find that you slouch. Using a treadmill barefoot is a great way to keep your back aligned, and possibly mitigate lower back pain.

If your shoes have a very thick sole, or the arch isn't right for your feet, your gait can be affected without you being consciously aware of it.

Shoes might also compress your feet, making walking or running for a long time uncomfortable. Even a good pair of running shoes, however, can modestly influence the way you align your back.

Furthermore, shoes with more cushioning tend to favor a center strike, as opposed to running barefoot that fosters a front strike, which can reduce stress on your knees and lower back. This is crucial when you're running on a harder surface, as a shoe can unevenly spread the impact into your joints causing sore feet.

In addition to considering a barefoot walking or running lifestyle, you can try ALeaf's own CBD Foot Cream to boost your recovery.

Your flexibility in your feet and ankles increases

If you're walking barefoot on a treadmill, you can move your foot more freely than if you kept your shoes on. If you're always wearing shoes, your foot can become rigid and locked into an unnatural range of motion. Training while barefoot improves your flexibility, and improve your ease of movement.

Shoes also tend to clutch our toes together, when our foot's natural position is to have the toes spread out during running. This is a common culprit for developing blisters close to the top of your sole, and running barefoot can help reduce the likelihood of these happening.

Your blood circulation throughout the legs improves

When you walk barefoot, you engage more muscles along your leg, including the large calf muscles we all have. Many secondary muscles in your lower body are recruited while walking barefoot, and activating these dormant structures can improve blood circulation. This allows for easier exchange of oxygen, which could help with reducing your risk for heart disease.

Your flat arch might be corrected

Barefoot running and walking could help strengthen the muscles in your feet to help correct a flat arch. Constantly wearing shoes means that the muscles that would naturally support your legs are not getting stronger.

Exposing your foot without shoes helps with strengthening these muscles the more you run barefoot on the ground.

Dangers of walking or running barefoot on a treadmill

Like any new modification to a tried and true exercise routine, there are some special considerations you need to take before deciding if running barefoot on a treadmill is right for you.

While barefoot running can potentially help with foot discomfort, you might have to make some modifications to maximize your safety and comfort. Our CBD-infused foot soaks, for instance, are a great option to start practicing preventative foot care.

If you're looking to start barefoot running, be advised that some concerns do exist about it:

You may be prone to certain foot injuries

It feels a little redundant to explain, but naturally, running without shoes can leave your feet vulnerable to the elements like dirt, stray rocks, sharp pieces of pavement, even the occasional (but somehow excruciating) Lego piece.

This concern is usually minimized if you confine your barefoot walking or running to the treadmill, where the danger of stepping on rocks or rough pavement is nonexistent.

If you are worried about getting hurt, try to keep your treadmill speed moderate and check for any rips or loose pieces of the treadmill belt before starting. If you are worried about slipping due to the lack of grip, keep the speed manageable.

Your treadmill's belt heat may be uncomfortable

Blend drive treadmills usually have a belt that is designed explicitly for shoes. The abrasive material may cause increased friction on your feet, leading to heat. This heat may contribute to blisters forming.

The solution to this is to be mindful of the treadmill speed, and try to avoid sprinting for too long without breaks in between.

Start slow, and gradually increase the speed as needed to maximize your comfort. If you plan on a long run, be alert if you find the belt is getting too hot.

Extra pressure on the balls of your feet

Doing a workout on the treadmill barefoot moves the impact pressure from your arch and heels. While running on the balls of your feet is proven to be the optimal position for walking and running, it can put added pressure on your toes every time you strike the ground.

A moving treadmill belt, while great for balance and alleviating pressure on other joints, will force you to push off with the front of your feet.

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether or not to walk barefoot on a treadmill, or run barefoot is a personal choice that many people see great benefits from.

Some concerns need to be taken into consideration, but all in all, walking barefoot on a treadmill might just be the newest fitness trend to help anyone experiencing sore or swollen feet after a workout with shoes.