Is jumping barefoot or in shoes with thin sole is bad for you?
Now, there are exceptions to this, but let’s dig into the topic and you’ll see what I meant.
I myself have trained barefoot for years, resorting to thin-soled shoes for the winter days. I was promoting it even when we did some TV shows and was praising everyone who shared this training idea. What was the reasoning behind it? Well…
The second and the most common argument was “your foot atrophies in shoes” or “shoes are like a cast” which can be misleading. Ligaments may lose the thickness and muscles of the foot may weaken over prolonged usage of certain types of shoes because they aren’t having enough stimuli. That is one of the reasons barefoot activities are endorsed by almost everyone, however, does that include you jumping 2-3 meters and landing on a concrete edge, repeatedly. Different activities need different shoes.
First, we argued that by training barefoot you are forced to do smaller jumps and to land precisely and smoothly, teaching you to control the movement.
This, however, raises the question, why not just train smaller jumps in a controlled manner with shoes? It’s not like you’re not developing the control because of it, you just don’t have the punishment in the form of pain when you fail your landing.Because we all know it hurts like hell when you’re barefoot and land slightly off.
So this part is just self-control, realizing you need to actually take smaller and more controlled jumps to improve. If you can’t do that, it’s a mentality issue, and barefoot training is not the solution.
Shoe companies are putting a lot of resources to try and perfect different aspects of the shoe for a given task. You have weightlifting shoes that are rigid and firm on one end, running shoe which is flexible and somewhat soft on the other, with your everyday shoe somewhere in between. Isn’t it crazy to assume that people in a billion-dollar shoe and sports industry have no idea what they are doing and it’s best to just go barefoot? You might as well believe in the rest of the conspiracy theories then, like the Flat Earth. (jk)
Ok, so here are some actual reasons why you shouldn’t train parkour barefoot.
What you see here is a graph of ground reaction force over time of a running stride and the area under the curve is impulse or momentum. (they are basically the same things dP=F*dT=m*V)
The ground reaction force is the force responsible for our movement. We apply force to the ground, the ground reacts back and propels us in the opposite direction. During walking peak ground reaction force that impacts the body oscillates around our body weight and during running it goes up to almost 8 times our body weight, and during a triple jump, it can exceed 20.
We have no data (as far as I know) for parkour plyos, drops and strides on concrete but it’s safe to assume the numbers can reach 15x BW if not more.These numbers are enough to reach critical tension in connective tissue
*Underlined results are something strong traceurs can achieve, which is why I mentioned 15x BW as a possible option, not to mention that these numbers will be higher on a stiffer surface compared to the track here.
How can we mitigate that peak force? Well, we can’t change the impulse due to the law of conservation, but we can change the peak force by changing the look of this graph. By being barefoot, you transfer much force to the ground in small time frame, that even though we have the same amount of ground contact time, the peak force is high. The point of the midsole is to lower the peak force and spread it across evenly without increasing contact time significantly. The same exact idea is behind grass on a football field or polyurethane on athletics stadium.
Furthermore, excess dynamic loading on the body may lead to the development of a variety of musculoskeletal disorders with osteoarthritis leading the way. However, underloading is an issue as well as I already mentioned, and here we’re getting to the somewhat of a conclusion. Barefoot activities are great as long as they are not very stressful. Walking and running on grass/sand, tree climbing, those sort of activities have many benefits. Jumping on concrete? Not by a long shot.
This topic is actually quite extensive, and I’m thinking about making a 15-20 minute dedicated YouTube video.There is some really interesting research on this topic and I would like to go into details, as well as explain the difference between different types of sole and so on so please tell me if you’re interested in that. With Instagram being number one social network we don’t have a chance to open a discussion and get the community involved which is a shame because some of these topics need to be talked about. So please, comment, give your feedback, and I’ll see ya next time!