Whether running barefoot on treadmill is safe or not can spark a debate, especially for those who feel uneasy running with shoes on.

Some individuals claim that wearing shoes while running on treadmills causes discomfort or hampers their performance, prompting them to consider shedding their footwear. However, safety becomes a concern in this scenario.

If you’re contemplating ditching your shoes for a barefoot treadmill experience, it’s essential to reconsider.

While there are indeed potential benefits to barefoot treadmill running, it’s crucial to acknowledge the associated risks. This article will dive into these benefits, examine the potential hazards, and then provide a balanced perspective on whether barefoot running on a treadmill is advisable.

Furthermore, it will offer practical tips for minimizing the risks associated with barefoot running. Conversely, if you decide against going barefoot, you’ll receive recommendations for suitable and comfortable treadmill shoes.

Potential benefits of running barefoot on treadmill

Before discussing the risks, let’s see some associated benefits of running barefoot on a treadmill;

  1. Improved Sensory Feedback—Without the barrier of shoes, your feet can directly sense the surface of the treadmill, allowing for better proprioception and feedback to adjust your running form.
  2. Strengthening Foot Muscles—Barefoot running can engage smaller muscles in the feet and ankles that are typically underutilized when wearing shoes. This can help improve overall foot strength and stability.
  3. Natural Running Form—Running barefoot encourages a more natural gait, promoting a midfoot or forefoot strike rather than a heel strike, which can reduce impact forces and potentially lower the risk of certain injuries.
  4. Increased Balance and Coordination—Running without shoes requires greater balance and coordination, as the feet must adapt to the surface of the treadmill. Over time, this can lead to improved balance and proprioception.
  5. Potential for Better Running Efficiency—Some runners find that running barefoot helps them refine their running technique, leading to increased efficiency and potentially faster running speeds.

It’s important to note that while these benefits exist, they may not apply to everyone, and there are also potential risks associated with barefoot treadmill running.

Risks Associated with Running Barefoot on a Treadmill

Having gone through the benefits, it is essential that you see the associated risks so that you can make better decisions.

  1. Increased Risk of Foot Injuries—Without the cushioning and protection provided by shoes, the feet are more vulnerable to abrasions, blisters, and cuts from the treadmill belt, especially if it’s not properly maintained or if there are small objects on the surface.
  2. Potential for Plantar Fasciitis—Running barefoot may increase the strain on the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot. This could potentially lead to plantar fasciitis, a common overuse injury characterized by heel pain.
  3. Risk of Stress Fractures—The lack of cushioning and support from shoes can result in increased stress on the bones of the feet, potentially leading to stress fractures, particularly in individuals who increase their mileage or intensity too quickly.
  4. Exposure to Bacterial and Fungal Infections—Barefoot running on a shared treadmill exposes the feet to bacteria and fungi that may thrive in warm, moist environments. This increases the risk of developing infections such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus.
  5. Potential for Overuse Injuries—While barefoot running can help strengthen certain muscles and improve running form, it also increases the risk of overuse injuries, particularly if proper training progression and recovery strategies are not followed.
  6. Risk of Achilles Tendonitis—Running barefoot may place increased stress on the Achilles tendon, potentially leading to inflammation or tendonitis, especially if individuals do not gradually adapt to the increased demands on the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.

Is it safe to run barefoot on a treadmill? Today’s Answer

The safety of running barefoot on a treadmill depends on various factors including individual biomechanics, experience level, and proper treadmill maintenance. While some people may benefit from the increased sensory feedback and natural running form, others may be at risk of foot injuries, stress fractures, and other issues. Ultimately, it’s crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the associated risks and make an informed decision based on personal circumstances. If choosing to run barefoot, it’s essential to start gradually, maintain proper form, and ensure the treadmill surface is clean and free of debris to minimize the risk of injuries.

Tips to safely run barefoot on a treadmill

video source – well+good youtube channel

If you have chosen to run barefoot on a treadmill after weighing the potential against the associated. Here are some tips that will help you run safely on a treadmill barefoot. 

  1. Start Gradually: If you’re new to barefoot running, start with short sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity to allow your feet to adapt to the increased demands.
  2. Focus on Form: Pay attention to your running form, aiming for a midfoot or forefoot strike to reduce impact forces. Engage your core and maintain an upright posture to minimize strain on your lower back.
  3. Choose a Clean Surface: Ensure the treadmill belt is clean and free of debris to reduce the risk of cuts, abrasions, or infections. Regularly clean and maintain your treadmill to keep the surface smooth and safe for barefoot running.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain in your feet, ankles, or lower legs. Stop if you experience sharp or persistent pain and allow for adequate rest and recovery before resuming.
  5. Strengthen Your Feet: Incorporate exercises to strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles, such as toe curls, calf raises, and barefoot balance drills, to improve stability and reduce the risk of injuries.
  6. Vary Your Terrain: If possible, alternate between running barefoot on the treadmill and running outdoors on different surfaces, such as grass or sand, to vary the stress on your feet and lower limbs.
  7. Warm Up and Cool Down: Prior to your barefoot treadmill session, perform a dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise. Afterward, incorporate static stretches to help prevent stiffness and aid in recovery.
  8. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your barefoot treadmill run to stay hydrated and support optimal performance and recovery.
  9. Consider Footwear Alternatives: If you’re unsure about running barefoot on the treadmill or prefer added protection, consider minimalist shoes or socks with grip for a compromise between barefoot running and traditional footwear.

By following these tips and listening to your body, you can enjoy the benefits of barefoot treadmill running while minimizing the risk of injuries.

Comfortable shoes to run on a treadmill

Incase you feel safer putting on a pair of shoes for running on a treadmill, here are some nice recommendations;

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

source –

Known for its cushioning and responsiveness, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus is a versatile option suitable for various running activities, including treadmill workouts. Check the shoe options on Nike Store here.

2. Brooks Ghost

source –

The Brooks Ghost offers a plush feel and excellent cushioning, making it a popular choice among runners seeking comfort and support for long treadmill sessions. Find Ghost shoe options here.

3. Asics Gel-Nimbus

source –

With ample cushioning and a supportive fit, the Asics Gel-Nimbus provides a smooth and comfortable ride ideal for logging miles on the treadmill. See the shoe options here.

4. Adidas Ultraboost

source – addidas ultraboost

Featuring Adidas’s responsive Boost midsole technology, the Ultraboost offers a high level of energy return and cushioning, making it suitable for treadmill running. Check them out here.

5. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080

source –

The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 offers a plush and supportive ride, with its Fresh Foam midsole providing cushioning and stability for a comfortable treadmill experience. Check out freshfoam shoes here.


What are Cross Training Shoes and What are they Used For?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is barefoot treadmill running suitable for beginners?

Barefoot treadmill running can be suitable for beginners, but it’s essential to start gradually and listen to your body. Beginners should focus on developing proper running form and gradually increase the duration and intensity of their barefoot sessions to allow their feet to adapt to the increased demands.

How can I prevent blisters and foot injuries while running barefoot on a treadmill?

To prevent blisters and foot injuries while running barefoot on a treadmill, it’s crucial to ensure the treadmill surface is clean and free of debris. Additionally, gradually build up your barefoot mileage to allow your feet to adapt, focus on proper form to minimize friction, and consider using moisture-wicking socks or minimalist shoes for added protection if needed.

Are there any specific treadmill models recommended for barefoot running?

While there isn’t a specific treadmill model recommended exclusively for barefoot running, it’s essential to choose a treadmill with a smooth and well-maintained belt to reduce the risk of foot injuries. Look for treadmills with shock absorption features and a comfortable running surface to enhance your barefoot running experience.

Can barefoot treadmill running improve my running performance?

Barefoot treadmill running may improve running performance for some individuals by promoting better running form, strengthening foot muscles, and increasing proprioception. However, the extent of performance improvement may vary depending on individual factors such as biomechanics, training consistency, and overall fitness level. It’s essential to focus on proper technique, gradually increase training volume, and incorporate other aspects of training, such as strength and flexibility, to maximize performance gains.


The safety of running barefoot on a treadmill depends on various factors, including individual biomechanics, experience level, and proper treadmill maintenance. 

While some may benefit from the increased sensory feedback and natural running form that barefoot running provides, others may be at risk of foot injuries, stress fractures, and other issues. It’s crucial for individuals to weigh the potential benefits against the associated risks and make an informed decision based on personal circumstances. 

Whether opting for barefoot running or wearing suitable shoes, prioritizing proper form, gradual progression, and attentive listening to one’s body are essential for a safe and enjoyable treadmill running experience.

By Tunde Rasheed

I'm a fitness coach with a passion for writing. I spend most of my leisure time working out, reading and writing. I created dhammyfit to help you get the most out of your cardio workout sessions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *