Take off your shoes: Walking barefoot can prevent injuries

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According to a new research, walking barefoot can help you improve balance, posture and prevent common foot injuries.

Patrick McKeon, a professor at Ithaca College’s School of Health Sciences and Human Performance in New York, says that the more people go barefoot at home, in the office or outside, the healthier their feet will be.

He believes that the small, often overlooked muscles in the foot play a vital but underestimated role in movement and stability, similar to the core muscles in the abdomen.

The researcher explained their importance by describing the cycle of feedback between the large “extrinsic” muscles in the legs and feet, the smaller “intrinsic” muscles in the feet, and the neural connections that send information from them to the brain.

When this cycle is broken, it can lead to overuse injuries that most athletes are familiar with.

According to a new research, walking barefoot can help you improve balance, posture and prevent common foot injuries.

Patrick McKeon, a professor at Ithaca College’s School of Health Sciences and Human Performance in New York, says that the more people go barefoot at home, in the office or outside, the healthier their feet will be.

He believes that the small, often overlooked muscles in the foot play a vital but underestimated role in movement and stability, similar to the core muscles in the abdomen.

The researcher explained their importance by describing the cycle of feedback between the large “extrinsic” muscles in the legs and feet, the smaller “intrinsic” muscles in the feet, and the neural connections that send information from them to the brain.

When this cycle is broken, it can lead to overuse injuries that most athletes are familiar with.

Exercises consisting of shortening the foot by squeezing the ball of the foot towards the heel can be done anywhere at any time. They can be particularly beneficial for injuries such as ankle sprain and shin splits (a wear-and-tear injury that is common in dancers and gymnasts).

The professor says that the benefits are not just physical, they can also be financial. Strong feet simply need enough support to protect them and grip the ground, no more than that. No need to invest in very expensive shoes.

He also recommends that 5-10% of the distance in a running routine should be barefoot, with a transition phase using ultralight running shoes.

However, he suggests avoiding walking or running barefoot in winter, because the cold tends to anaesthetize any pain.

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