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The Beginner’s Guide To Barefoot Cycling

By Sam Whalley

You may have heard of barefoot running. But have you ever heard of barefoot cycling? It’s starting to grow in popularity but it’s difficult to pinpoint where the trend actually came from. So, why are people cycling barefoot? Does it actually provide any health benefits over wearing regular or cyclist shoes? Here we’ll discuss how cycling barefoot can improve your cycling ability and some tips if you’re considering trying it for yourself.

Why ride barefoot?

The reasoning behind pedalling barefoot stems from retaining a more natural pedal motion. The majority of riders tend to go with clipless pedals, where the feet are attached to the pedals. However, this has been known to lead to an inefficient pedalling motion that can affect the lower body.

Pedalling without any restraints on the feet forces you to both proactively and passively adjust your pedalling motion so that it’s more natural. While this is probably not suitable for mountain bike trails or biking excursions, it’s perfectly fine for leisurely rides.

What equipment can help you ride barefoot?

If you want to get all of the benefits from cycling barefoot but still want that added layer of protection to avoid damaging your feet, it’s recommended that you find a suitable pair of barefoot shoes. These are becoming quite the trend and can also be used in a variety of other settings, such as running.

One of the easiest ways of making the process of barefoot cycling much easier is to fit your bike with a choice of flat pedals. These don’t have any spikes and are specially designed to improve grip. You may also opt for pedal blocks, which can be used to cover up any spiked pedals, making them comfortable for you to place your feet on.

For additional comfort, you could add some form of soft padding to the pedal. There’s no need to spend money on specialist equipment here; simply attach a rubber sponge to the top of each pedal and secure it with string or something similar.

What are the top barefoot cycling tips for beginners?

As with any major changes to your normal exercise routine, start things slow with ever-increasing increments at first. You want to avoid experiencing ankle or heel injuries by pushing yourself too far with these changes.

It’s sensible to start walking barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes when you’re out and about initially as well. See how you feel going for a 10-minute walk or jog and whether this is comfortable.

Gradually increase the distance, time and pressure until you’re confident that you’re able to cover long distances – there’s nothing worse than your feet starting to hurt halfway into a long cycling journey.

In conclusion, barefoot cycling certainly isn’t for everyone but is always worth trying to see if it improves your performance and ability. Who knows, you may end up sticking with it long-term.


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