Running Barefoot on a Treadmill: Challenges and Solutions

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Running barefoot on treadmills is more beneficial than training in running shoes. A study has revealed this carried out by scientists from the universities of Virginia and Colorado, in the USA, together with experts from the company JKM Technologies.

This study reveals that the rotational force generated on the knees and hips when training on a treadmill is more aggressive when wearing sports shoes than when running barefoot or with socks, thus reducing the risk of suffering injuries that regular runners suffer.

However, before you get started, it is important that you do it with caution and consider the issues below.

Challenge # 1: The Treadmill Belt Comes at You

As you know, the belt of the treadmill moves towards you and not in the opposite way. This can be a mechanical challenge for you and your feet as you tend to slow down your rhythm because we do not know how to occupy our bare feet on a fast-moving surface, and we tend to strain on our toes. This also implies adopting a different body position which you are not used to.

What Can Be The Solution?

To be more confident and comfortable in bare feet, it is recommended to slow down the treadmill and increase its incline. This will help your body position to be more comfortable when using the forefoot until you get used to it.

On the other hand, this will encourage the natural way of moving the human body to spring off of your toes. It is recommended that, over time, you lower the incline of the treadmill until it is completely flat and increase the speed of your walk.

Challenge # 2: Running on a Treadmill is Running in a Tight Space

Just running barefoot on treadmills gives many people the feeling that they will crash into the monitor or the plastic stand in front of them. This intervenes in the concentration of the runner, making it difficult to run.

What Can Be The Solution?

The best solution for this problem is that you do not position yourself so far ahead. That is, place yourself in the middle of the belt of the treadmill to have more space ahead when taking the step.

This will help you have more peace of mind since it will avoid having a false perception of reality and not being so close to the LCD screen. Keep in mind that your body must be in the middle of the treadmill, i. e., you must be able to touch the control panel with your hands outstretched and not touch the end of the treadmill with your feet so as not to get out of it.

Challenge # 3: Treadmills Lack Relief

Those who are beginning to practice barefoot running on the treadmill experience discomfort and lack of relief. This is due to the type of surface that the treadmill has, i. e. because it is a totally flat and artificial surface.

The flat surfaces of the treadmills prevent some foot muscles from exercising a little more, something that does not happen if you run on a sandy road since they end up adjusting to that surface, preventing fatigue. This can lead to an injury from constantly running on a surface where the steps are always the same.

What Can Be The Solution?

Since there are no all-terrain belt treadmills, it is advisable to make adjustments to both incline and speed. That is, change it frequently in each session until your feet get used to it.

Some users have just started this practice of running barefoot and change the incline every minute. For example, after 5 minutes of walking flat, they change the angle little by a little while also increasing the speed. Then the values go down.

If your treadmill does not have the option to change its lean angle, try changing the speed by creating different intervals. These changes will allow your feet’ muscles to adjust to the surface and, over time, adapt to the flat terrain without pain.

Challenge # 4: Treadmill Belts Get Toasty

Because the belts of the treadmills are electric or constantly rotate, with friction, this belt tends to rise in temperature and is usually a bit annoying for some users.

What Can Be The Solution?

If you are a beginner in running barefoot on the treadmill, it is recommended to start small, that is, no more than 5 minutes, and as the days go by, add more minutes. In this way, you will not burn, and your feet will adapt to the heat to avoid more serious injuries.


Whether the weather isn’t conducive to barefoot training outside, a treadmill may be a good alternative if you’re prepared to make a few changes. But it is important that you maintain good posture when running on the treadmill and use your forefoot. If you are a beginner and are practicing running barefoot, start with short strides and increase your speed to avoid injuries.

Also, to run barefoot on a treadmill comfortably, you’ll probably need to change your running style and the treadmill’s settings. Running barefoot on a treadmill does not cause pain; if it does, stop using it before seeing a doctor.


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