Welcome to my BAREFOOT page.
The 1:59 Marathon
Will running barefoot help an athlete break the elusive two-hour marathon?
"Being off the grid is minimalism..." Read Bill Katovsky's introduction to my "Off The Grid" page.
Barefoot Golf? Yes!
The excerpts below are from my new book, The Healthy Golfer:
“Shoeless” Sam Snead
Recognized as one of the greatest golfers of all time, Sam Snead, who won a record 82 PGA events, started playing golf as a barefoot youngster on the family farm in Virginia. That’s how he learned to create a perfect swing. As a pro, he would occasionally take off his shoes to remedy a temporary glitch in his swing. Snead even played two holes barefoot during a practice round at the 1942 Masters.
Many contemporary pros and commentators believe that Snead had the sweetest swing of any player. Sports Illustrated once wrote that “his follow-through spoke like poetry; the club face finished parallel to his shoulders, and his balance was so exquisite that he could hold the pose indefinitely.”
Snead never tried to crush the ball. Instead, he used the natural balance and flowing rhythm of his body to achieve maximum power—but without over-swinging. Snead said that, “over-swinging is the most common problem in the game.” To prevent over-swinging, he recommended that, “you take your shoes off and hit a few barefoot—that will cut your backswing down.” In a video, he removed his shoes and took several smooth-as-silk swings. “If you try to over-swing,” added the always colorful Snead, “you’ll break your toes.”
Playing Barefoot with Rocco
Rocco Mediate, who notched six PGA Tour victories in his 28-year career, is still best known for finishing second to Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. A crowd favorite, Mediate, now age 50, is currently playing on the Champions Tour where he won his debut tournament in early 2013.
In an online three-minute teaching video that you can watch for free on YouTube, Mediate advocates taking off your shoes and practicing the golf swing barefoot. “Rocco,” he says to the camera, just after taking a swing with an iron, “people ask me all the time—no shoes, barefoot, why do you practice barefoot?”
His answer: “It’s fantastic on balance and feeling the ground. It shows how important footwork is. If you use the right parts of your body—using the big muscles—you can swing without shoes on and it doesn’t really matter. I definitely feel a huge sense of balance. There’s no slipping around.” Mediate even douses the grass with several bottles of water to show how stable his body is during a swing while standing without shoes on the damp ground. Rocco says players who “twist and turn too much and their feet are all over the place upon impact” are helped by swinging barefoot.
“I make these guys play barefoot for two, three days,” he says. “I guarantee they will stop doing what they are doing. Because if they don’t, they will fall down. So [barefoot] is really a good way to learn how to use your feet on the golf course.”
Two Barefoot Music Videos...
Barefoot in America
Barefoot in the UK
"Barefoot in America" lyrics
Producer and barefooter Rick Rubin sent me an email to say he liked the Barefoot In America music video. He recalled a recent flight to Hawaii from LA, in first class, and while walking up and down the isle to keep loose and improve circulation (reducing cardiovascular risk, a known problem on long flights), he wasn't wearing shoes. The flight attendant yelled at him saying he could not be barefoot--the plane's cabin is like a restaurant and barefooters are not allowed!
This barefoot doctor, also a barefoot farmer, is a barefoot beekeeper! Her name: Coralee Thompson.
Below: The first Barefoot Bob? It's 1967. Robert Stern, 16, from Lexington, KY, becomes one of the younger barefoot water skiers. He was made a lifetime member of the
American Barefoot Water Ski Club
Check out this new book...
Barefoot Running Step By Step
Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton
My Barefoot Bio
Here is a brief background about my barefoot life.
I spent a good amount of my childhood playing outside barefoot. My first official barefoot race was in 1968—a 220 yard sprint during a high school track and field meet. In the 1970s, en route to studying to become a doctor, I learned all about the structure and function of the human foot as a key to optimal posture and movement. This included understanding its bones, muscles and movements, and how to fix a dysfunctional foot.
In 1977, I entered private practice with a focus on treating athletic and stress-related injuries. All the patients I saw were asked to first take off their shoes. I not only examined their feet, but studied the wear patterns on their casual and sports shoes—even in those without foot complaints, many had foot dysfunction that caused knee, hip, back and other pains.
I began writing articles and lecturing about the feet, and how they could be adversely affected by shoes. I ran the 1980 New York City Marathon in flat-sole running shoes. But the footwear industry started making thicker and more over-supported running shoes that immediately created an explosion of foot- and leg-related injuries. Even non-athletes started wearing these overdesigned shoes, with the same sad consequences. Not only did the injury rate continue to increase, so did the price tag for these products.
By the mid 1980s, I began recommending that runners and other athletes, walkers and those wearing casual shoes consider following what I then termed my first line of defense: “minimalist” footwear—these included a nine-dollar pair of shoes sold at Walmart, ten-dollar Keds (two of my favorites for running), and other less popular shoes that were flat, relatively thin and not oversupported.
I continued spending a lot of time barefoot, including walking and running, and recommended the same to my patients. In fact, barefoot therapy was one of my regular rehab recommendations.
In the 90s, as I continued coaching athletes in virtually all sports, I began writing books on health and fitness. I also tried to find a publisher who would be interested in a book about the widespread problems associated with popular running shoes, why less support is best—better than the new thicker trainers—and how being barefoot during part of the day could be an answer to correcting and avoiding injuries of the foot, ankle, knee, hip, low back and spine. A number of publishers told me that a book like this would not be liked by the “powers-that-be.” What they meant was the footwear industry and the running magazines they supported through advertising would blacklist it. Finally, in 2002 The Lyons Press accepted my manuscript, leading to the publication of the first barefoot book, “Fix Your Feet.” Mark Allen, who I began training in 1983, blurbed, “This book could put to rest many of the aches and pains that you thought were just normal.”
Shortly after the book came out, I quietly retired from private practice and coaching endurance athletes. Instead, I shifted my time and attention to a new interest: I became a songwriter and soon came out with two music CDs. You might call my musical style acoustic-folk-rock. I got to work with many great musicians through my friendship with music producer Rick Rubin. In fact, I became quite close to Johnny Cash. As it were, one of the first songs that I ever recorded in Nashville was called “Barefoot in America.”
“Fix Your Feet” sold a few thousand copies with very little marketing, but the publisher refused to come out with a new edition or second printing. Interest in going barefoot was still scant. (I later incorporated much of the content from “Fix Your Feet” into the pages of my most recent book, “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing,” which was published by Skyhorse.)
Now, all of a sudden, the public is keenly interested in all things barefoot, a passion and excitement whose catalyst was the national bestseller, “Born to Run” by Chris McDougall. Going unshod is becoming more and more popular. There’s barefoot runs, barefoot hiking, barefoot-style running and walking shoes, barefoot blogs, and several barefoot running books. The modern human foot has never had it so good after being trapped for way too long in shoe prisons.
And so I have decided to step into the barefoot ring once again, with the first-ever release of “Barefoot in America.” It's my hope that singers and musicians in other countries create their own version of my song. Going barefoot knows no borders or restrictions no matter where you live. And it's still something I do every day in Southern Arizona where I now live.
Barefoot Kilimanjaro: Mission Accomplished
On Saturday, 29 January, at 12.45 South Africa time, our entire team of six barefoot climbers reached Uhuru Peak, at 5,895m, the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and the highest point in Africa... Read more.
Articles on Barefoot, Feet, and Shoes
The Barefoot Bandwagon
QUICK-FIX: Get Back Your Happy Gait
—10 Steps to Barefoot Therapy
The Pros and Cons of Video Gait Analysis
What Runners Should Know About Getting Their Body in Balance
Barefoot in the Desert:
Phil Maffetone and Chris McDougall Chat for a bit.
Getting Faster Overnight
by Coralee Thompson M.D.
In Search of the Perfect Running Shoe
The Fear Falling
Lessons from the Leaning Tower
Exclusive: Chris McDougall Interview
A Brief History of Shoes and Manufacturing
A great video developed by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella on the science and the art of barefoot running. THIS IS A MUST SEE!