Training Barefoot is the New Shoeless Running

The towel scrunch exercise in actionEver since legal settlements proved that minimalist running shoes did not provide all the benefits they claimed to offer runners, barefoot running has become far less popular. But just because running barefoot may not be the best thing for you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give barefoot exercise a chance.

Performing certain exercises shoeless has become a new staple for far-ranging group of athletes—from elderly individuals looking to prevent falls to serious runners wanting to improve their gait and reduce injury risks.

The new fitness trend is known as The Willpower Method, and there are already over 1000 certified instructors across the country. The foot and toe drills incorporated in these workouts are designed to strengthen the 33 joints, 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments contained in your feet.

The best part of all this? You can do most of these exercises in the comfort of your own home, with little or no fitness equipment required. Just check out this sample exercise, printed in the Los Angeles Times:

Towel scrunches and marble pickup: To restore toes to their full function of gripping, lifting and pushing, and to counteract the tendency of toes to curl. Pull a towel toward you, then push it way. Then grab one or more marbles, and drop them into a cup.

So there you have it: barefoot running was a controversial practice at best, but barefoot workouts offer little downsides and plenty of potential wellness-boosts. Try some of these exercises today and let me know what you think!
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.