Working out with beach shoes
I have been researching barefooting since I learned of it a few weeks ago. I read about some runners using aqua shoes to run in. I am not too sure what aqua shoes are, but I remembered that I had a pair of beach shoes. I dug around and found them. The sole is rubber. The heel is not raised like every other shoe I have. They fit me loosely, but stay on my feet well.
I am not yet up to running outside, so I thought I would wear the beach shoes to the gym for my workouts. Doing so would also help me transition by getting my achilles tendons and calves used to no heel lift.
Wow! That was a good idea.
I start my workouts on an elliptical machine. I did not think the beach shoes would make that much difference because my foot stays planted on the pads. Was I ever wrong. My forefoot stays planted on each pad, but my heel moves from being flat on the pad to being elevated. I have a much greater range of motion of my ankle than before. Also, my calves are burning from the workout. The elliptical machine gives me a better workout of my feet and lower legs than I ever remember before.
After warming up - and getting an unexpected workout of my calves - I usually move to the squat rack. When I squat with my normal workout shoes, my heels have a tendancy to lift. I am always leaning too far forward. Some guys put a plate under their heels to prevent heel lift. But that always seemed to be addressing a symptom and not fixing the problem. Little did I realize that the problem was my shoes. Every shoe I've worn when working out has an elevated heel. Until now.
Doing squats with flat shoes feels good. My feet stay planted on the floor. There is no tendancy to lift the heels. In fact, I sometimes curl or lift my toes upward. All my weight is being carried by my foot between my heel and forefoot. I do not feel like I am leaning forward when my feet are firmly planted flat on the floor.
With my feet flat on the ground, my squatting form is better. I no longer have a tendancy to lean forward or lift my heels. The bar moves straight up and down. And I can squat deep.
I also do military presses. With my feet flat on the floor I have no trouble staying erect with good form. I no longer sway front to back.
I also do bench presses. Normally, during the press my toes are the only part of my feet touching the ground. Not with flat shoes. My feet are flat on the floor when I start and they stay that way. It seemed that my lower legs are able to relax and I can concentrate on pushing that bar up. The moves easier and I seem to focus more on the bar moving than stabilizing my body on the bench.
This is only my fourth week back in the gym. I am still working on getting back into the groove. Wearing shoes with no heel lift surprises me. After wearing them to workout for a week, all my exercises seem easier to perform. And maintaining proper form seems easier. The only downside is that my feet sweat in the beach shoes.
I am amazed. Every exercise feels better in beach shoes. Not wearing traditional shoes with elevated heels makes a big difference.
I may never wear conventional shoes again.
- Barefooting! My introduction to life without fancy shoes