Benefits of Barefoot Jump Training

Shoes

Are those fancy shoes helping your jump training???

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?

 

Mark

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3 Tips for Barefoot Training

I’ve written previously about training barefoot and the possible benefits.  It seems like the concept is becoming more popular lately.  There are more books being published and the concept is getting more coverage in the mainstream media.  Recently an article on barefoot training appeared in the Huffington Post.  With all of the recent interest, I thought it might be a good idea to mention a few tips before throwing away all of your training shoes.

What shoes to wear for training today? How about going barefoot!

Tips for Barefoot Training

  • Ease into it – Most of us haven’t spent lots of time barefoot since we were kids.  Keep this in mind when you start training barefoot.  Our feet have become used to the support and protection of shoes.  Since your feet will probably have to go through an adaptation process, don’t try to do everything barefoot right off the bat.  It might be a good idea to start going barefoot more around the house,if you don’t already.  Then start by doing your warm-up without shoes.  If you are doing a proper dynamic warm-up, it should take you 10-15 minutes to complete.  This should give your feet a chance to begin to get used to going without shoes.  After this, gradually add in more barefoot time.
  • Choose soft surfaces – Ok, maybe this one is common sense but I still thought that it was worth mentioning.  Soft surfaces give you cushioning when your feet land on the ground.  They also help to limit the amount of surface damage (small cuts, scrapes, etc) to your feet.  While this is a good idea in general, it is especially important when first starting out your barefoot adventures.
  • Be selective in your activities  Continuing along with the general idea of safety, you should probably choose activities that are fairly safe for your feet, especially at first.  This probably isn’t the time to work in some depth jumps, for example.  Stick with easier activities and remember that there are still some things that it might be a good idea to wear shoes while doing (e.g., weightlifting).

I’ve been wondering what the new training “fad” will be for 2012.  Maybe barefoot training will be it.  Ok, maybe not if Nike has anything to say about it haha.  Regardless, give barefoot training a try.  It will help your feet to gain strength and movement that they haven’t had since you were a kid.

Mark

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And The Feet Have It

As a follow up to my previous post on sand training, I thought that I would address a question that I was asked about running in the sand.  The question was about running barefoot in the sand and impact forces.  Here was my reply:

“It can actually be a great opportunity to run barefoot. Running without shoes tends to make people land on the balls of their feet more. This further decreases the impact forces. It also helps to work the muscles of the foot better and strengthen them. The only warning is to ease into barefoot running gradually.”

 There has been a lot of interest in barefoot running recently.  I’ve seen several articles in magazines and on websites recently so I guess it is a new “fad”. As Vern Gambetta wrote in his blog recently, it’s not a new concept.  It’s been around for a long time.  The main thing to realize is that there is benefit to running barefoot (or in socks or something less than a “normal” shoe).  To work this into a program before, I’ve had athletes do their warmup in socks to get the benefits.  This gives them a chance to ease into it so that we could incorporate more of it during other training sessions.  Anytime that I have athletes in the sand I try to have them do it barefoot.  I figure that they’e going to get sand in their shoes anyway so what not get even more out of the session.  

Footprint in sand pic

In a nutshell, whether it’s in the sand or elsewhere make sure that you plan some barefoot time into your program too.

 

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