Barefoot running on a treadmill is the current trending debate among runners. Let us start with the advantages since that is what caught the interest of most. As barefoot walking is the natural form for which our bodies are designed, it helps you achieve your normalcy.
It strengthens muscles and improves your gait as your balance is well restored. Since you plan to run on a treadmill, there are no obstacles you usually need to worry about while walking outdoors. Stones, dust, or glass shards are all out of your way, and you get to run on a smooth surface.
Getting into details, check out the most useful advantages that support the notion of barefoot running on a treadmill.
What Are the Advantages of Running Barefoot on a Treadmill?
When barefooted, your foot muscles require to do extra work. They need to push hard as the feet impact the ground directly, making them work to their limits. This activates the foot ligaments, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles as you stretch them.
It supports the tissues and strengthens the augmented muscles without additional stress on joints. This helps you to keep your knee joints safe and less prone to injury.
You need to land differently on your foot while wearing shoes and while using barefoot. This requires some practice as you need to land on the heel and not on balls and midsole. When you do so, you tend to take shorter strides and require to land softly, leading to less impact on the heel.
The complete arrangement forces you to arch the front of the foot for creating natural shock absorption support. As you flex these muscles, you get to improve your stamina and endurance, run with lesser oxygen consumption, and experience improvement in impulses and strength.
Balance and Posture
Maintaining body balance and posture becomes easier as you feel aware of it when your feet touch the treadmill belt each time. Your feet require to support your leg moves and hold your body weight by expanding appropriately.
This action engages the primary muscles and avoids stress on the heel and joints in comparison to running with shoes. Also, your stability and cognitive coordination receptiveness get a boost through this primitive method of running.
What Are the Disadvantages of Barefoot Running on a Treadmill?
Along with so many advantages, you also have a few disadvantages of barefoot running on a treadmill. If you were not accustomed to barefoot running before, your foot muscles might experience extra tension as there are no shoes to cushion your soles.
You might also notice some blisters initially. As you need to land on the running treadmill belt barefoot, it causes a rub on your feet, and also, the limited foot space might lead to injuries.
Your feet constantly rub on the treadmill belt, leading to a greater risk of being prone to injuries and abrasion, along with limited foot space. Since there is no layer of protection between your barefoot and the treadmill belt, you need to be extra careful.
Barefoot running on treadmill causes repeated friction to the sole and leads to foot burns. Even abrasion and scrapping are possible as the belt moves fast while your foot is still touching the belt. You will not have these issues when using running shoes, as they are designed to protect your feet.
Similar to direct exposure to the ground, a treadmill belt can also be a cause of injury if not careful.
Since the sole is soft, it isn’t accustomed to such running and can get eroded with each stride. Most of the time, the feet are habituated to one or another kind of protective surface when on the move, such as walking or running.
Sudden exposure to direct impact might need some time to adjust and can cause erosion of the skin surface due to its sensitiveness. Even as you adjust, you still face these issues but with lesser intensity.
Running action when compared to natural ground and treadmill belt, the impact happens differently. While running on the ground, as your feet impact the ground, you get to push your body forward.
However, on a treadmill, it is different as the belt moves towards you when you try to run, driving the impact right through your feet. Also, running barefoot in a limited area forces you to take smaller strides to avoid injury from the surrounding parts from which you need to maintain a little distance.
These sudden changes in running style might affect your performance and need some significant changes to keep up with barefoot mode. As the treadmill belt moves, it heats up due to the continuous running, and the sole of your foot will feel the heat sensation causing foot burn.
With time and practice, you will need to learn how to tactfully avoid the injury areas while maximizing the running space. Also, learn to deal with the heat by breaking your session and allowing the belt to cool or by developing a better ability to bear the heat.
Flat surface running exercises the same group of muscles every time, and they might be overworked and stiff after some time. The sole muscles are affected, while the heel muscles are not utilized well. It might lead to various foot muscle-related issues.
You can experience plantar fasciitis, calf tendinitis, and Achilles tendon when you use your foot without heel lift. While a smooth surface keeps your foot safe from stones and debris, without elevation or inclination, your workout may lead to some foot-related medical conditions.
You need to vary inclination and speed to avoid overworking the same muscles again and again. This variance can help in resting few muscles while the other unused muscles get a workout.
Are There Any Risks to Running Barefoot on a Treadmill?
The moving belt of a treadmill is certainly risky for barefoot. From limited space to a high risk of injuries, you have several things to consider before you decide to start barefoot running. Expect injuries and muscle soreness in the initial stages.
Not to ignore the heat under your soles that can lead to blisters and abrasion to the sole. Cons apart, you still can enjoy many benefits through barefoot running, but be alert and be prepared by knowing what to expect and how to overcome that issue.
How to Avoid Injury When Running Barefoot on the Treadmill
To prevent injuries while running barefoot on a treadmill, you need to take shorter strides and land softly on your feet. Also, use your toes to spring off the surface each time. Start with a higher inclination on slow speed and gradually reduce the inclination while increasing the speed.
These settings will decrease the impact on your feet and also keeps your foot muscles flexible by distributing the strain. Varying speeds and smaller stride lengths will keep injuries at bay and helps you manage small space easily.
Pay attention to your muscle condition and do not push too hard, which may lead to serious injury such as tendon inflammation. When you notice swelling, pain, or soreness, remember to stop running and consult a doctor.
Can One Run With Socks on a Treadmill?
While there are no additional advantages of wearing socks, there is no reason to say not to wear them. However, you need to know that the socks themselves will be subjected to wear and tear, causing holes in them.
Also, your foot is deprived of fresh air for no reason, and sometimes it can also be irritating. It is better to run by wearing good shoes or barefoot rather than with socks as there is no significant benefit by wearing them while running on a treadmill.
Can You Wear Flip Flops on a Treadmill?
Though few individuals can successfully walk using flip-flops on a treadmill, running is a high-risk activity. But most of them agree that flip-flops are not appropriate gear to use on the treadmill and if you want to use them, do so at your own risk.
Will Running Barefoot on a Treadmill Cause Blisters?
Yes, beginners do have high chances of developing blisters while running barefoot as the foot is not accustomed to such impact. A sudden change from shoes to barefoot modifies your gait and the muscles you use while running on a treadmill.
This transition increases the stress on the sole and foot muscles. Along with it, there is also the rub caused by moving belts which all together can cause redness and blisters. In the initial stages, it is important to rest your feet for healing and discontinue running till you feel better.
If you feel the discomfort to be unusual, it is better to visit a physiologist. Keep checking your feet for blisters and other physical injuries and care for them properly.
Final Thought: Is Running Barefoot on a Treadmill Bad?
First and foremost, you should not already be suffering from any foot-related medical conditions. It is also better to check with your doctor if you are at risk from previous injuries if you start running barefoot on a treadmill.
Since diabetic individuals have lesser sensation in their soles and are prone to injuries easily that take a lot of time to heal, it is not advisable for them to run barefoot. While there are advantages of barefoot running, there are also disadvantages that you cannot ignore.
In short, if you believe the pros outweigh the cons for you and you are capable of overcoming the risks and find undergoing all that effort gives you worthy results, then go for it. You can always try and check if it is suitable for you, but extra caution is advised.