Improving Your Memory With Barefoot Running

Improving Your Memory With Barefoot Running | NordicTrack Blog

Professional runners have gone barefoot all throughout history, and a 2016 study now confirms that running barefoot can positively impact your memory compared to running with shoes. The researchers at the University of North Florida found that memory is enhanced with a minimum of 16 minutes of barefoot running because the runner has to pay serious attention to not step on sharp objects. Running may relate to memory because the barefoot condition seems to process sensory feedback more quickly due to the extra tactile demands associated with barefoot running.

The Mechanics Of Running Barefoot

Running in poorly constructed shoes often results in heel striking. Barefoot running advocates suggest that minimalist running is a more natural experience that can correct a runner’s form and result in fewer injuries – forcing the runner to land on the balls of their feet. When you walk or run barefoot, you’re strengthen the muscles in your feet and will prevent you from developing a collapsed arch.

Preparing To Run Barefoot

Take the following steps as you prepare to run barefoot:

  1. Experiment running outdoors with zero drop shoes or try running barefoot indoors for a few minutes at a time.
  2. Slowly extend the length of your barefoot run by as little as a minute or two every two or three days. Try a variety of surfaces such as dirt, grass, the beach, asphalt, or concrete.
  3. Next, try a short run with barefoot shoes.
  4. Stop using your cushioned running shoes entirely and use only zero drop shoes, whether indoors or outdoors while also working in completely barefoot runs.
  5. Run completely barefoot, carefully choosing your surface. Avoid gravel, hot surfaces, and even some paved areas. Paved bike paths, well-used dirt trails, and outdoor tracks are good places to start barefoot running and allow your foot to build up a little strength before running on the road.

This process is a slow one. Allow yourself time to adjust to a midfoot strike as well as running barefoot. You can expect your feet and calves to wear out quickly when you aren’t used to this new running style. But in time, you’ll see an increase in endurance and a decrease in injury.

Watch Your Step

When running barefoot, avoid stepping on any potentially harmful objects such as broken glass or sharp stones. You will find a lot of this on roadways. You also want to stay away from surfaces that might blister your feet from the heat or give you frostbite from freezing conditions. 

Consider Running Barefoot On A Treadmill

If you want to go for a natural run but have reasons for not going outside, you might want to consider buying a treadmill and running in place instead. While NordicTrack does not recommend running barefoot on treadmills, zero-drop shoes are a great alternative that mimics barefoot running.

A treadmill affords the same exercise benefits as running outdoors albeit while indoors, and you can still sharpen your memory as a result because of the tactile connection between your feet and the treadmill. In several ways, you can more easily get the exercise you need. The treadmill in your home gives you easier access to long-distance running while eliminating normal road hazards like gravel, potholes, and traffic. You’ll also be smarter by the time you finish. Sounds like a win-win situation on all fronts!

DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. NordicTrack assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


Take Off Your Shoes and Walk by Simon J. Wikler D.S.C.