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Nothing is as delightful as walking barefoot on the beach or running barefoot through the tall grass of summer. Just don’t jump into a bunch of goatheads, which was what I once did, thinking it was a soft field of clover.
What about going barefoot treadmill running, have you thought about it? Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t, but I’ll tell you what, your old friend Kathleen here sure has thought about going barefoot on a treadmill.
Today, I want to talk to you about whether you should wear shoes, running shoes, or run barefoot on your treadmill.
Table of Contents
Is It Better to Run Barefoot or with Shoes on a Treadmill?
Treadmills are not designed to be used barefoot. The treadmill deck gets hot after about 15 or 20 minutes, so you should wear shoes to continue running comfortably. Also, your feet are going to sweat walking on a very warm surface, and wet feet have a greater chance of slipping than if you were wearing shoes.
That’s not all, wet feet can also develop some terrible blisters. Ouch.
The truth is that you should really use shoes, preferably running shoes, when using your treadmill to avoid not only burning your feet but also to prevent possible treadmill injuries.
Did you know that treadmills cause more injuries than any other type of home gym equipment? I was actually shocked to learn that.
Sometimes these injuries are due to people goofing off around or on the treadmill, while other times, it’s the treadmill itself that malfunctions.
Either way, my point here is that you should be very careful when using a treadmill.
If you have an iFit membership and want to use it on a treadmill, you should read which treadmills work best with iFit.
Is It Bad to Walk Barefoot on a Treadmill?
Now walking is far different from running, and if you’re merely walking on a treadmill barefoot, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Hopefully, your treadmill has a wider track so that your foot lands naturally in the center portion of the treadmill belt.
Treadmills that do not have any cushioning might hurt your calf muscles, or you could even suffer from a stress fracture in your foot or lower legs.
Be sure that you place your feet near the center of the treadmill belt for safety. If the belt starts to feel hot, wearing socks with gripping pads at the bottom might be the answer, but again, that isn’t really barefoot.
The running surface of the treadmill is all hidden underneath that belt. If you experience any discomfort, even if you’re walking slowly, you should stop the treadmill immediately.
I want to mention that I have an auto incline treadmill that is the bomb. If you’ve never heard about them, you will want to read about the best auto incline treadmills here.
Is It OK to Run on a Treadmill with Socks?
I really wouldn’t recommend that you do that.
Even those grippy socks with little pads on the bottom won’t make for a sturdy running style. A moving treadmill belt can cause friction burns, overuse injury, and even stress fractures.
Socks are not firmly attached to your foot even if they are tight. They can wear out quickly and shift around, putting you at a greater risk of injury.
Are There Any Benefits of Walking Barefoot on a Treadmill?
Whether you want to barefoot run or barefoot walk on your treadmill, there are no real benefits that I am aware of or that I could find, other than the feeling of freedom on that part of your feet.
One problem with going barefoot is that this manner of running on a treadmill (or walking) doesn’t distribute your weight as evenly as a shoe will. In time, this will accelerate the wear and tear on the deck, shortening the life of your treadmill belt.
I also want to mention some hygiene issues. Even if you only walk barefoot, you are leaving dead skin, sweat, oil, and dirt from your feet on the track. If you don’t clean if off every week or so, you are going to have one stinky, smelly, unsanitary treadmill belt.
By the way, I want to mention that diabetics should avoid barefoot running entirely since they have less feeling or sensations in their feet and may not be able to detect an injury.
When you consider that there are lots of negatives and really no benefits to running barefoot on a treadmill, it makes wearing shoes all the more sensible.
Related Post: How Long Should I Run on the Treadmill to Lose Weight?
So Is It Necessary to Wear Shoes on the Treadmill?
Necessary is such a strong word. Necessary, maybe not, but recommended, yes.
Remember that barefoot walking or barefoot running gives your feet zero support. This can lead to a foot injury, or even an Achilles tendon injury.
I’ve already mentioned blisters, wet, sweaty feet that can cause you to slip or fall, and that your treadmill may not have adequate cushioning for your feet to land softly on.
Ew, and let’s not discuss those points about hygiene again. Yuck.
So while it’s not necessary, it is highly recommended that you leave barefoot running to the great outdoors or the beautiful beaches.
If you’re in the market for a new treadmill, but you need one that works in small spaces, you will definitely want to read this article.
Related Post: Are Treadmills Bad for You?
The Final Takeaway
Wearing some high-quality running shoes is preferable to barefoot running on a treadmill, there’s no doubt about that. Even walking, actually, but at least, if you go walking barefoot on your treadmill, you probably won’t experience too much discomfort or be in too much danger.
As much as I love the thought of minimalist running, I just don’t find it a good idea to go barefoot running on a treadmill.
Running barefoot on the beach or even at a park, where there is soft grass and no moving parts, sounds like a nice way to spend an hour.
Barefoot running on a treadmill with its moving parts, hot floor, and high chance of accidents or injuries just doesn’t make sense to me.
So, be smart and wear a good pair of running shoes if you decide to run on the treadmill. I would hate to hear that one of my readers became injured from a treadmill belt.
Keep safe always, friends, and stay healthy and happy! Life is too short for anything else.
Written by Kathleen Langdon – TheHealthPot.com Founder
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES)
Kathleen, a mother of two, struggled with ongoing weight and health issues. She created this website after she turned her life around. She built Thehealthpot.com to help inspire and motivate others with their fitness goals. Read more about Kathleen here.