“Hey guys I’ve just been getting a fair few messages about me training barefoot and the reasoning for it,” she began her IG stories. “I’ve talked about this before but obviously not everyone sees everything that I post.”
“I used to have really bad feet and they used to sort of cave in and the arches were really weak,” she explained. “A lot of [foot] problems are caused by wearing shoes because we rely on the shoes for support, so we don’t rely on the strength of our feet and our arches.”
Sure, she might be sacrificing comfort sans all that extra cushioning. But since hitting up the gym barefoot Emily reckons her feet feel so much “stronger.” Her hip and knee pain has totally disappeared too.
“I just really grip the ground. I feel like I’m acting like a monkey… My toes dig into the ground and you pull your arches up,” she added. “I just love it. It’s hard for me to actually lift with shoes on now.”
Lacee Lazoff, a kettlebell specialist and StrongFirst-certified trainer totally backs these benefits.
“The muscles in the feet have to work harder when they’re not surrounded by extra padding from shoes,” she tells Women’s Health. “Slipping those off helps to build essential strength in your arches and support ankle stability. Think of this process like a natural orthotic insert.”
Apart from simply solidifying your foundation, barefoot training improves the mind/body connection too. “There are nerves and receptors throughout the foot that send signals through the body, reminding certain muscles to turn on like a light switch,” says Lacee, adding that newbies should start with simple exercises - like squats and lunges - to avoid injury.
"All movements are fantastic, especially squats, swings, deadlifts, and overhead presses," she continues. "Try moving in all planes of motion."
And as for cardio? “Running can be done barefoot, but be careful with impact activities as a novice," Lacee warns. "It takes a lot of time to build up strong enough feet to run successfully without shoes. I suggest a low-profile running shoe to start, then making a transition for sprints and shorter runs."