Why warming up barefoot is a good idea

You might want to think about warming up barefoot before every sport/discipline consisting of closed chain movements (let’s say “feet touching the ground”). When you think about running, jumping, landing, changing directions,… we know that Ground Reaction Forces (GRF) are the reason we are able to get moving. The harder we throw a basketball at the ground, the higher it will bounce up. But not every surface will get us the same result. If you throw the ball with the same power on grass, or a conrete floor, you will get different results. Your body will want to know how hard you are hitting the ground, for an efficient transfer of vibrations through the rest of your body. Yes vibrations, because vibrations are our way of perceiving the GRF going through our body.

But how can we register those vibrations?

We have mechanoceptors in the skin on the bottom of our foot. To be more precise, we have 4 different kinds. 2 Germans (Merkell discs and Meissner) and 2 Italians (Ruffini endings and Pacinian corpuscles) are living in our skin and each of them telling us something different. They are more prominent in 3 area’s of our body; the palm of our hands, the sole of our feet, and in the lips and tongue. It are the Pacinian corpuscles who are telling us more about vibrations. Let’s say, they tell us how hard your body it is hitting the ground. Or, if we turn this around, how hard the surface underneath is vibrating.

So why barefoot?

We don’t want a reactive state of our body, if your foot is not active before hitting the ground, the contact will not be as efficient as you would want it to be. So to get to a proactive-anticipating state, your body will want to know how hard it has to hit the ground for a proper and efficient jump for example. We know that each surface is vibrating differently. The faster your body adapts to the surface, the faster you will get efficient movement. This is one of the reasons why players perfom better when they have home advantage. They are better and more adapted on the surface they are training and playing. Faster feedback will lead to faster stability, which will lead to faster efficiency.

The cushioning in our shoes alters the feedback the ground is giving us. If you warm up barefoot, the Pacinian corpuscles have free game and they will have a more precise feedback-loop for your body. You first need feedback to have a feedforward/proactive state of your body.

Only warm up barefoot before putting your shoes on if:

• You want a more active anticipating state of your body

• You want proper feedback from your surface

• You want more efficient movement

• You don’t want a delay in stability

• You want a faster adaptation of your body to the surface

What if I even told you, your feet can communicate with your core? Perhaps more on this later on…

If you can not wait, check out www.ebfaglobal.com and check out the work of Emily Splichal for more on this!

Till next time,


Anton Ghys