• Doug Joachim

Barefooting Prep

Updated: Apr 16




  1. Bunions

  2. Plantar Fasciitis

  3. Ingrown toenails

  4. Hammer toes

  5. Fallen or weak arches

  6. Chronic ankle sprains

  7. Lower back pain

  8. Headaches

  9. Deformed feet

  10. Pubescent Malformation

  11. Knee pain and arthritis

  12. Shortened Achilles tendon and calf musculature

  13. Morton’s Neuroma

  14. Falls (particularly in the elderly)

  15. Shin Splints

  16. Athlete’s Foot (bacterial and fungal infections)


Barefooting is natural but takes some time to relearn. Making the switch will be quite a shock for your feet, ankles, calves, pelvis, spine and knees. You’ll need to progress slowly through the adaption phase in order to adequately prep your body. I cannot stress how important it is to take this transition slowly. Decades of wearing shoes has changed your natural gait, posture, boney structures, soft tissue and biomechanics. The skill of walking and running barefoot will not intuitively come back to you. It is something you’ll need to be taught and gradually integrate back into your life.


Transition Plan:


  1. In the home and at the office start walking around barefoot, without socks when possible. This will awaken your dormant foot muscles and nerve endings on the soles of your feet.

  2. Practice foot and toe strengthening exercises daily.  Pick up golf balls, pens and other things with your feet; practice single leg ‘Short Foot’ standing; perform toe dexterity movements like lifting your big toe independent of the others or visa-verse; do a series of ankle rotations; barefoot single leg calf raises; and walk on your heels while keeping your toes up.

  3. Walk on the treadmill barefoot forwards and backwards. (beware many gyms might frown upon this due to a so-called liability issue).  Better yet, take a walk on the beach or grass.

  4. Specifically get your big toe (1st MTP) stronger and more dexterous by practicing push offs while walking and big toe pressing while lifting the other toes up.

  5. Buy a pair of good minimalist shoes and do short runs or hikes (less than 1 mile) with them. Try to walk on uneven surfaces and rough terrain as much as you can to build the musculature of the foot.

  6. Purchase a toe separator like yoga toes in order to increase the flexibility of your toes and regain some lost alignment.

  7. Get your gluteals (butt muscles) and deep core musculature firing again. These muscles play an integral role in proper running and odds are yours aren’t working properly. Sitting most of the day shortens your hamstrings, weakens your core, and turns off your gluteal muscles.

  8. Practice third world squats often. This will improve functional joint range of motion specifically adding to your ankle, knee and hip mobility.

If your goal is to run barefoot, I recommend hiring a professional who can videotape your gait and instruct you on correct form, ensuring a smooth transition while minimizing any chance of injury.  Running, walking and hiking barefoot are excellent ways to feel a connection back to nature and your body.  The adaptation phase takes time and micro-progressions are key.  Just remember, the slower you take it the faster you will get there!

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PERSONAL TRAINING - CORPORATE FITNESS - NUTRITIONAL ADVICE - WEIGHT LOSS - MUSCLE TONE - CORE STRENGTH - OLDER ADULT SENIOR FITNESS

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© 2019 by Doug Joachim New York City & Brooklyn JoachimsTraining LLC