Blog Header Image



February 23, 2024

Shoes and Why They Matter: Barefoot or BUST

I have had a lot of people recently complain about ankle, foot, calf, and knee pain. Some of it may just be freak incidents or injury. It could also be a lack in mobility or wrong exercise selection. However, I feel like a lot of time it could simply just be the things we wear on our feet.

Our feet are the only part of our body that comes into contact with the ground. It provides us with the support and foundation we need to produce literally every single movement we do.

And what do we (normally) have on our feet? Shoes! There are all kinds of shoes. There are shoes for basically every activity in our lives. Walking, running, trail running, hiking, golf, tennis, various cleats, weight training, and more. They are all supposed to serve a purpose that enhances the activity they are designed for. 

However, what does that do to the structure of our feet and our function as a human?

Certain shoes I think that the trade off is worth the benefit. Tennis shoes are specifically designed to provide extra lateral support and grip on the court. Are they the best everyday walking around shoe? No, but they definitely provide a huge benefit for the sport.

Golf is very similar. There are obviously good and bad options with both, but the benefit outweighs the cost in both cases.

What concerns me the most (as your favorite strength coach and personal trainer) is the shoes you wear daily and the shoes you wear to the gym.

Everyone’s current favorite shoe is the Hoka. I am not going to bash them or anything, but personally I am not a huge fan. I understand they are comfortable and that they “help” with running and walking, but I am not convinced.

I am not saying to throw them away or anything. What I am saying, though, is that if you choose to wear them you need to do some other things to keep your feet healthy.

At the risk of sounding like a complete hippy… We evolved barefoot, and lived for millennia barefoot. We would travel hundreds of miles every month, barefoot. And it wasn't until recently that we started stuffing our feet into foot prisons. 

With all that being said, we also evolved on extremely uneven terrain and doing things barefoot in our modern environment is vastly different because basically everything is flat. 

I still think barefoot living and barefoot shoes are the way to go though and here is why…

Ground Feel

The closer the relationship between your feet and the ground the better. You are able to feel your actual foot shift on the ground as opposed to your foot shifting inside a shoe with a bunch of cushion. 

This will speed up reaction time which will in turn allow your balance to be better, and allow force production to be better.

Foot Mechanics

Our foot is supposed to be able to move, shift, flatten, bend, and raise up. Constricting your feet in walking or running shoes will limit the ability for your foot to function.

Again, with walking and even running it isn't the biggest deal. However, when it comes to exercise and training inside the gym; you need to be able to manipulate your foot properly in order to get proper muscle activation.

Here are my recommendations…

Get some training specific shoes. They should have a wide toe box, a narrow heel, a small “drop”, and very firm/minimal sole.

Walk around barefoot. Go in your yard and around your house without shoes or socks on. It feels good and your feet will thank you.

Do all your balance drills without shoes. Know how in PT they make you balance on that foam pad? It makes it way harder, right? Well that is basically the same thing as your cushiony sole. So pop those shoes off and balance!

Get yourself some yoga toes. This is by far the best thing I own for under $50. They can cure bunions, and they help your foot achieve and maintain proper structure. And with proper structure comes proper function.

Here are some links that can help! If you want some shoe recommendations, ask me next time your in the gym:)

Great general resource: The Foot Collective

Yoga Toes: Buy Them HERE

Yours in strength,


Continue reading