Exercise, Exercise Guide, Fitness
Running Barefoot on Treadmill

7 Dangers of Running Barefoot on Treadmill

You have probably come across the barefoot running style and you are wondering whether you should try it, right?

Well, just like you, most people might at first want to take a spin on the treadmill to test the waters. And sure, treadmills are great for exercise but is it ok to run barefoot on a treadmill?

The proponents of this particular running style wax lyrical about its benefits but as with anything, there are downsides to it.

When it comes to running barefoot on treadmill, especially, there is a different set of things that you need to take into consideration.

Undoubtedly the running conditions have changed.

According to some, the practice is akin to inviting injury. This is because your feet have become used to wearing shoes for most of your life.

Therefore, there are several dangers associated with it. In fact, some studies suggest that barefoot running does more harm than good.

If you want to try running barefoot on treadmill, keep these in mind:


7 Dangers of Running Barefoot on Treadmill


Blisters are the first thing you would probably notice when you begin running barefoot on a treadmill.

This is because of the friction caused by the treadmill as it meets your feet at the same exact spot. The treadmill surface is both hot which is hot and rough. This goes on for a few minutes.

And while these blisters may not at all be life-threatening, their position on the soles of your feet will no doubt be uncomfortable for several days.

In some cases, this can cause painful burns. Aside from that, you will likely have to deal with recurrent blisters for a while.

They may reduce when your feet develop calluses to adapt to this kind of friction.


Without shoes, running barefoot on treadmill puts you at the risk of accidental scraping or stubbing of your toes.

Shoes tend to cushion your toes to some degree when you stub your toe. However, you would have zero protection from injury when you are barefoot on a treadmill.

Additionally, if you are used to running with shoes on the treadmill and you decide to switch to running barefoot.

You might unintentionally place your foot too close to the sides or the edge which then makes you prone to abrasion by the machine.


Running barefoot on treadmill could also lead to serious falls and consequently injuries.

If your feet sweat a lot, you have a high chance of slipping off the treadmill and falling, causing either sprains or fractures.

Furthermore, since your feet do not have treads like shoes do, you could very easily lose your balance as well and fall.


As stated earlier, your feet are not used to direct contact with the ground or the flat surface of a treadmill. This is on account of us wearing shoes the majority of the time since the onset of modernity.

When running barefoot on treadmill, you land on your forefoot which prolongs and softens the landing.

Unfortunately, this means that the calf muscles and Achilles act as shock absorbers. Eventually, you will begin to feel its effects.

These effects include pulled calf muscles, Achilles tendinitis, and stress fractures in the feet which then affect your exercise regimen.

Naturally, when you stop or take a break from exercising, the muscles tend to get weaker. In this case, your lower extremities will take a hit.


Treadmills do not provide relief for your feet the same way running outside would.

This is because your feet would adjust to variables on the terrain and therefore prevents overuse injury.

When you run barefoot on a treadmill, its perfectly uniform surface does not mean that you will find it easier to run. There are no pebbles or broken glass, as it would be if you run barefoot outside.

All the same, it makes things harder for your feet as the constant stress on the same part of your foot is very likely to lead to injury as the stress is not distributed all over your feet.


If you suffer from diabetes, running barefoot on treadmill can be detrimental as you could progressively lose feeling in the feet.

This is due to weakened muscles or numbness as a result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) in diabetic patients.

This damage to the nerves often causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in your hands and feet. More abrasion by barefoot running on the treadmill would damage the pain receptors in the feet.

This means that you may not be able to easily detect injury when it happens.


For your exercise regimen to be effective while running barefoot on treadmill, you might need to adjust a few things.

For instance, you will need to change your speed to the higher side to get in the same amount of exercise and this causes more friction and hence more burns or blisters.

Furthermore, if you change your incline to accommodate you exercising barefoot, you would not be able to get as much out of your session as you would if you are wearing shoes.

Eventually, this leads to overtraining.

Together with other injuries that may be caused by barefoot running on your treadmill, you will probably be grounded for a while or decrease your performance.

If you are unable to work out at all, you may have to put your fitness plans or goals on hold.


If you opt for walking barefoot instead of running on your treadmill, you need to keep in mind that you are still susceptible to injury. You would still go through the same motions but at a lesser speed.

Besides that, if you don’t have enough strength in your feet, you would have poor walking mechanics. This would still put you at risk for injuries like the ones mentioned above.

However, it can be a good start to get your feet used to the treadmill before embarking on running.


Socks only serve to lessen the impact of the friction on your feet and so you would still be susceptible to the injuries above.

With socks, you would have to be even more cautious as socks can be slippery. They could  also get caught on the belt, which could lead to falls.

Remember, treadmills are designed with the shoe-wearer in mind. It is best to have on some kind of shoe or rubberized socks when using a treadmill.


Frankly, the jury is still out on which style of running has the best outcomes.

That said, it is very important to note that running barefoot on treadmill has its own set of dangers that can cause serious injuries.

It is therefore advisable to start slow. If you have health issues such as diabetes or have had previous injury, consult a professional.

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