There has been a lot written over the last few years about barefoot running and training. I’ve even written a few posts myself on the topic (And The Feet Have It and 3 Tips For Barefoot Training). However, what I haven’t seen is anything about barefoot plyometrics or jumping. Recently there was a study published in the JSCR that addressed this. The study looked at the performance of male and female athletes while performing a vertical jump, depth drop, and Bosco test. While I won’t go into all of the statistics, in most instances subjects who were barefoot or wearing minimalist footwear had better jump heights and peak power results than those wearing tennis shoes. These subjects also displayed equal landing forces to those athletes wearing shoes.
My thoughts from this study?
- That $100 pair of tennis shoes that you’re training in may be hindering your performance in jumping activities. These shoes are often designed with lots of padding to decrease landing forces. While this is beneficial to limit the wear and tear on the body, this same padding may limit our explosiveness when jumping.
- We know that when you lift heavier weight, you get stronger. Does the same hold true if you do plyometrics or jump training barefoot? Only time will tell as more research is completed. However, it does make sense that training barefoot would have positive long term effects. The previously mentioned study showed better peak power output and jump height when barefoot or in minimalist footwear. If you get better results each time, what can happen if you train this way consistently?
- I’ve previously written about the benefits of barefoot training while running, doing agility drills, warming up, etc. At the same time, I’ve always felt like certain activities might put the athlete at risk for injuries when they were barefoot. Any type of jumping activity was on my list of things not to do while barefoot. I’m now rethinking that belief. While I will probably end up settling on minimalist footwear as a safe alternative, the benefits of jumping without tennis shoes could outweigh the risks. Plus we know that there isn’t a real difference in landing forces no matter what you are wearing.
What are your thoughts on jumping without tennis shoes?