Squatting Barefoot vs. Shoes: Time to Change Your Squat Tactics

Squatting barefoot is the most common scenario everywhere. But what if you choose to wear shoes while squatting? Will it impact your squat performance?

So, you may ask, squatting barefoot vs. shoes – which is better?

Well, mostly it depends on your goal and preference. However, squatting barefoot is always recommended for better posture, mobility, and squat positions. Also, it is more natural, offering balance and stability. But, if you want shoes, ensure they are the right size. Or you may injure your feet.

Here is a brief comparison of squatting barefoot vs. shoes.

Barefoot SquatsSquats Wearing Soes
Activate more feet muscles.Barefoot in gym is considered unhygienic. Hence, members have to squat in comfortable shoes.
Improve your range of motion and mobility.Painful if you have flat feet.
Offers a solid grip, eliminating the risk of injury.Wearing shoes while squatting minimizes the chance of having foot or lower back pain.

Squatting Barefoot Vs Shoes: The Right Footwear For Squatting 

Squatting Barefoot Vs Shoes

To answer whether to squat with shoes, you have to understand the role of feet in squatting.

While squatting, you shift your whole body weight on the lower back. This force is distributed on your thighs, quads, and feet to keep a balance.

As you can see, the foot does take part in squatting, and you feel an elevated pressure down there. Hence, foot placement has a link to effective squatting. For example, facing the feet outward is more convenient for a bigger squat, while putting them forward makes the squats effortless.

We can understand the connection between foot position to squatting effectiveness. But how can putting on shoes or going barefoot impacts squat? Here, find out.

Is It Better To Squat With Shoes Or Barefoot?

Well, squatting barefoot is better than doing it in lousy shoes, that’s for sure. A wrong-sized pair messes up your balance and damages your leg muscles. But of course, this can not be the reason to take off your shoes entirely.

Generally, professionals prefer going shoeless while squatting. However, you will get three common answers if you ask them why not wear shoes.

  • First, squatting barefoot is more comfortable as you feel more connected to the ground.
  • Second, it improves the squat, leg muscles, and ankles fast.
  • And third, it feels right.

5 Reasons Why Should You Squat Barefoot

5 Reasons Why Should You Squat Barefoot

Of course, you do not have to believe me blindly. But at least go through the benefits of squatting barefoot and see how convincing it sounds to you,

1. Elevated Mobility & Flexibility

Squatting without shoes helps you play with different foot positions. It also acts as an influence to improve your mobility while doing squats or any leg exercises.

For example, you were on a break from a workout. Now you can not perform your reps as before. No, you are not old. You are just yet to find out what is causing this breakdown and squatting shoeless does that for you.

When you squat barefoot on a flat floor, you feel more connected to your feet, toe, ankle, thigh, and hip. So, it becomes easier to identify what is limiting your mobility during squatting.

Trying out different leg positions and motion ranges will upgrade your flexibility, mobility, and squats. 

2. Strong And Flexing Muscles

Barefoot squats supposedly put more focus on thighs, ankles, and leg muscles. Of course, trying different leg positions in different motion ranges is to thank here. Thus it can be an effective exercise for someone recovering from a knee or ankle injury.

3. Lesser Risk Of Flat Feet

Squatting in wrong-sized shoes increases the risk of flat feet and slacking off the arch. On the contrary, going shoeless will eliminate such risks. Moreover, allow you to hold a more stable grip.

4. Improved Posture 

Going shoeless offers you a more stable grip on distributing weights while squatting. As a result, the risk of heel or toe injury is reduced.

Additionally, squatting barefoot allows you to pose more comfortably and flexibly, supporting your balance.

Moreover, it is also compatible with people with knee or back pain because of mobility and stabilization. It helps them get back their lost posture.

5. Unleashing Mind Muscle Connection

It may sound silly but squatting barefoot allows you to feel more connected while exercising. Of course, you might perform the tasks physically during practice, but your brain is always on the lookout.

When you squat without shoes, your toe heels, ankles, and joints feel the exerted ground pressure directly. Hence, you can build more grip on your movements and improve mobility. Also, your brain signals immediately to correct your position if you go out of balance.

6 Reasons Why Should You Wear Shoes While Squatting

6 Reasons Why Should You Wear Shoes While Squatting

Squatting without shoes does have some drawbacks. People often prefer to squat in shoes because of those liabilities.

1. Hard To Get Adjusted

It is not always a pleasing experience to squat barefoot. Especially for the beginners.

You can go off balance due to the lack of practice, grip, and weak ankles. It is a common scenario for newcomers or people making a comeback, often leading to minor injuries.

2. Bonus Pain

Barefoot is not always a good idea while squatting, especially if you are over 130kgs. It has been observed that people over 130 kgs suffer from foot pain when squatting barefoot.

Your feet are not yet ready to take on that additional weight. Nevertheless, you are safe from such foot pain if you weigh less than 130kgs.

If you experience pain squatting barefoot, don’t ignore the situation as it may turn to chronic pain. Hence, invest in squat shoes instead to get rid of any risk.

3. Lower Back Issue 

Barefoot squatting indeed reduces knee and hip joint pain. But, at the same time, it raises the risk of hurting your lower back.

In addition, people with existing back injuries experience increased pain while squatting shoeless.

4. Can Be Risky

Squatting barefoot is fine if the floor is dry and even. But, it will be foolish to squat barefoot on uneven or slippery ground. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a fall.

5. Hygiene Concern

Barefoot squatting is fine if you exercise alone at home. Unfortunately, commercial gyms often don’t allow shoeless entry.

Sweaty feet carry germs or bacteria, a health and safety concern for fellow members.

6. Alarming For Flat Feet 

If you have flat feet, never squat barefoot. It will push towards unbearable physical pains, even knee or hip injury. 

People with flat feet do not have the arc for shock resistance. As a result, the feet take in the wielded force from the ground, which raises the chance of future injuries.

Is Squatting Without Shoes Harder?

Is Squatting Without Shoes Harder

Squatting without shoes is harder if you are just getting started. You will feel increased pressure on your feet and the solid ground underneath.

Contrarily, putting on shoes while squatting is comforting for many. Here, the shoes act as a protection and support for the feet.

However, squatting shoeless is not that complicated. It can take a few days to get adjusted.

Once you get accustomed to squatting without shoes, you will notice more stability and grip over your exercise. In addition, you will be able to squat, spreading your toes on the floor, unleashing more active muscles. 

Moreover, barefoot squatting helps you with a range of motion and achieving mobility. Hence, you will notice improvements in your squat and posture within weeks.

Can You Squat In Flat Shoes?

While many weightlifters and gymnasts squat barefoot, you will spot some of them squatting wearing flat soles. Generally, you have to focus on your pressure points to achieve a stable and efficient squat. Therefore, going barefoot is an incredible hack to improve the squat depths.

But sometimes, your anatomy can limit your squats even when barefoot. Hence, lifters with a broader stance, strong back, and hip wear flat shoes to squat more deeply. You can try adidas Men’s Powerlift 4, the perfect shoe for squats.

In addition, these pairs offer almost all the benefits of barefoot squatting. So, you can wear it to the gyms that have a strict no-shoe policy and still avail of the benefits of barefoot squats.

Can You Squat In Running Shoes?

Of course, you can squat in running shoes, but it is not recommended.

You can buy a pair of squat shoes for squatting, or a lifting shoe will also work. These pairs can establish a link between your feet and the ground. As a result, you feel more involved in squats.

On the contrary, the running shoes are foamy and squashy with a high heel drop. Such designs can dampen your sensitivity.

Also, while squatting, the rearfoot plays an important role. The running shoe design does not allow you to play with your foot positions and go around the pressure tip. It not only restricts your potential but also increases the risk of injury.

Does Squatting Barefoot Cause Butt Wink?

You might notice a posterior tilt of the pelvic or, in other words, rounding off the lower back while at the bottom squat position. Well, this very incident is termed as butt wink.

Butt wink occurs due to the pelvic tucking at the descendent squat position. Such pelvic tilt forces the lumbar spine to round up and go for flexion.

There is a misconception that barefoot squatting causes butt wink. Well, this is not entirely true. Generally, the butt wink depends on the anatomy and mobility of the performer.

Regardless, butt wink indeed is a curse as it limits squat performance. Moreover, this type of pelvic tucking can provoke spine issues in future. 

If you feel like squatting barefoot is causing you butt winks, putting on squat shoes can be a good strategy. However, if it stays even after wearing shoes, you should focus on your techniques.

Squatting Barefoot Vs. Shoes: Which One Is Better?

Squatting Barefoot Vs. Shoes Which One Is Better

Honestly, you can argue all day on squatting barefoot vs shoes and still not come to a conclusion. It is because the deciding factor depends on your preference, goal and surroundings. 

You can squat in shoes as long as it is not hampering your mobility and you are comfortable. First, you have to make sure that the pairs are right-sized. Putting on the wrong pairs can slack off your arc and lead to flat feet.

Again, it is wiser not to take off shoes if the ground is uneven or slippery. Also, if you are squatting as a warm-up, taking off shoes is a waste of time.

Moreover, many gyms do not allow the members to take off their shoes. So you have to keep your shoes on there, but you can always choose flat shoes. 

But if it does not bother you much, squatting barefoot is always recommended. You will notice the professionals doing squats barefoot.

It is because going shoeless has several benefits. For example, it improves your posture, mobility, and squat positions. Also, it is more natural.

Moreover, barefoot squats help you achieve balance and more stability.

Transition To Barefoot Squatting 

You are always welcome to switch to shoeless squatting. But remember to take things slow.

I recommend you start by wearing a pair of shocks and run around the blocks. It will help you get accustomed to the new feeling.

Next, take off the shocks and try squatting barefoot. It will still be new to you, but you will soon get used to the movements. Once you do, you will be surprised to see your speed. Now you will be able to finish your reps more quickly and smoothly.

Squatting Barefoot Vs. Shoes: Final Thoughts

Squatting barefoot vs. shoes – I personally prefer squatting barefoot. It seems more natural to me, and I can always play with my mobility and range of motion.

However, if you find barefoot squatting uncomfortable, wear shoes. But do not wear running shoes or the wrong-sized pair. Instead, invest in either a flat, lifting, or squat shoe.

Those pairs are expensive. Hence make sure you do not wear them just once a month but every day.

Nevertheless, you can always try transiting from shoes to barefoot as it is cheaper and more stable.

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