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3 Exercises to Improve Your Barefoot Training

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist


When I met Josh I have to admit, I seriously questioned our relationship when he pulled out this ridiculous shoes. You know the ones I am talking about! 


Now I have nothing against these shoes, but c’mon guys, don’t wear them on dates!


On the other hand you might think “how can she be a physical therapist, those shoes fix your feet!” Let’s look past the fact that Vibram did pay out millions of dollars for inaccurate claims on the effectiveness of their shoes. Rather, “should we be barefoot?” 

I am all for strengthening your feet. Doing activities like marble grabs, towel curling, have long been foot strengthening activities we have been using in therapy for decades. The difference is being just barefoot and doing so with a purpose.


Since your feet impact basically EVERYTHING up your body’s chain, it makes sense we want to strengthen them, but to do so in a intentional and progressive manner. If done RIGHT, then you can help chronic knee, hip, and even shoulder issues. The problem many face is they do not take a progressive approach and not only don’t ever reap the benefits of barefoot training, but actually end up feeling worse. 

The reason that Vibram ran into problems was not because the idea of being barefoot is wrong, but just putting on a shoe doesn’t help a problem. As the popularity of being barefoot grew, I noticed people weren’t changing anything in their training, but just wearing the shoes. 

The whole point of being barefoot is to actively use your feet to a higher degree. DVRT Master, Joe Chalakee, wrote a great blog about this a few weeks ago (you can read HERE). It can be simple, but you want to progress to more challenging tasks. 

In fact, one of the BIGGEST reasons I strongly encourage people to perform single leg based DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drills is to help strengthen their feet and lower leg. Try this, take your shoes and socks off, stand on the ground, how active are your feet? Take note. Now, lift one leg up to about parallel to the ground. What just happened to the activity of the foot still on the ground? Start feeling yourself “grabbing” the ground? 

For many people they find this INCREDIBLY challenging. Instead of taking away from your training time you can make such training part of your warm-up or your recovery days. So, if you find yourself tipping a bit, or finding these really difficult to perform, build upon them, you need it!

Eventually, these DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training goals should make a part of your functional fitness programs and you will definitely discover the benefit of real barefoot training! 


Want to find out how to redefine your movement and fitness? Check out our upcoming DVRT educational programs in New York, Chicago, and Southern California HERE