Is it Bad to Use Treadmill Without Shoes?

Barefoot treadmill running or minimalist running has been rising over the past few years. Fitness enthusiasts and runners are now getting back to nature and enjoying the feeling that comes with it. The foot is designed to run without shoes, and humans have been doing it for several years without any issues.

However, there is mixed consensus as to whether there are risks or benefits. So is it bad to use a treadmill without shoes? Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of running barefoot on a treadmill.

Is it bad to use a treadmill without shoes?

For most fitness enthusiasts, running on the treadmill without shoes comes with tons of benefits. Since it’s closer to nature and strengthens your muscles and gait, it greatly helps improve balance. When running barefoot, your feet muscles awaken to support your new posture and the ground beneath you. This is known as running unshod.

However, most of the benefits are attached to personal preferences and freedom of running barefoot. Running barefoot may also increase your balance and focus and potentially minimize impact. But this is dependent on an individual’s skill level and form.

Although running barefoot on the treadmill offers an intense and beneficial cardiovascular workout, it may be detrimental to others. Therefore, you should be aware of the potential problems you’re exposed to.

Benefits of Running Barefoot on a Treadmill

As I’ve mentioned previously, running barefoot on a treadmill has been gaining popularity day by day. When using a treadmill, you don’t have to worry about glass shards, stones, or dust, which is a common complaint of outdoor runs. Here are some benefits of running on a treadmill without shoes:

Muscle Strengthening

Since your feet hit the surface without any shoes, your muscles start to work harder and are pushed to their limits. The Achilles tendon, calf muscles, and other foot ligaments are activated and stretched. Using the treadmill without shoes helps enhance muscle strength without stressing your joints. As a result, the muscles and knee joints won’t be prone to damage and injuries.

Improves Balance

As your foot hits the treadmill belt with every footstep, you’ll be able to feel in control of your body balance and posture. Your body receives better support as your feet expand to hold your weight and support your leg movements.

When you engage your muscles and prevent stress on the heel and joints, this type of running enhances the mind’s reception for stability, coordination, and balance. Therefore, running barefoot on a treadmill will help you maintain a natural running style and maximize efficacy with lighter steps.

Smooth and Efficient Running

It’s important to understand that running barefoot on a treadmill requires practice. When you’re running barefoot, it’s natural to land on the midsole and balls of your foot instead of the heel. If you take shorter strides on the treadmill with a soft landing, it will reduce the impact on the heels and lead to efficient and uninterrupted running.

Disadvantages of Running Barefoot on a Treadmill

Running barefoot on the treadmill can lead to various unpleasant injuries. Therefore, it’s important to consider this before deciding whether or not to run on the treadmill without shoes.


The treadmill belt can get hot and cause some burns at the bottom of your feet. Additionally, dragging your foot on the treadmill belt, either due to poor running form or accident, may cause friction burns.

Stress Fractures

A stress fracture is usually caused by repeated stress. Runners are prone to stress fractures due to the impact of running, but improper foot support may cause further damage.

Cuts and Scrapes on the Foot

The belt’s rough surface can cause cuts, blisters, or scrapes on the bottom of the foot. Although the skin of the bottom of the feet is thick, it’s a bit sensitive because humans are used to wearing shoes.


Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons and can happen in the foot’s tendons. This can occur to runners with improper footwear or running form.

Related: Best Treadmill for Heavy People


Can you run on the treadmill with socks?

Yes, but you can still get blisters at first. Without your running shoes, you’ll be running in a true biomechanical way. Your socks will wear out quickly because of the rough treadmill belt. You should not use socks that feel slippery on the deck.

Will I get blisters from the treadmill?

Is it Bad to Use Treadmill Without Shoes?

Running without shoes on a treadmill will cause blisters because you’re running on a rough surface and against an opposing force. Friction develops on the feet every time you land on the treadmill. Fortunately, your feet will get used to it, and blisters will stop forming.

Can you run barefoot on a curved treadmill?

Curved treadmills don’t rely on motors since the runner powers them. You’re less likely to develop blisters on them, but you’ll get them at first. Otherwise, running barefoot on a curved treadmill is like a motorized treadmill.

What are the potential injuries of treadmill barefoot running?

Barefoot running can make us susceptible to various injuries. These injuries include bone damage, calf strain, and Achilles tendinitis.


Treadmills offer a good environment for running, so if you want to use it the natural way, start gradually until your feet get used to the belt. This is debatable with benefits and drawbacks, and barefoot running boils down to your foot power and preferences. Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to be on the safe side.