Can You Walk on a Treadmill Without Shoes? How to do it right.

Barefoot walking has been becoming increasingly popular. It has been proven to come with certain benefits. However, this is typically when regarding outdoor cardio. It is important to remember that outdoor and indoor walking are extremely different, and walking on the treadmill while indoors poses more of a risk.

Do not walk on a treadmill without shoes. Shoes are needed when walking on the treadmill to reduce injury risk. If being barefoot is necessary, then make adjustments to the treadmill to achieve the proper foot strike. By not wearing shoes, the potential for injury is increased.

Walking on the treadmill barefoot should not be done. By using the treadmill without shoes, you are increasing the possibility of getting injured. If you want to start exercising barefoot, then you must do so gradually to avoid injuries. Keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about barefoot walking!

How to Walk on a Treadmill Barefoot

Walking on the treadmill without any shoes is not usually the best idea as it increases the possibility of injuries. However, it is possible to walk on the treadmill barefoot without getting injured. By following the four simple steps below, you will be able to start walking barefoot on the treadmill in no time. The process is a gradual one, but it will be worth it.

Haven’t bought a treadmill yet? Click here to find a complete guide on how to select the right treadmill for you.

Step One: Prepare your feet

The first step is to prepare your feet for walking without shoes on. To prepare your feet, you will want them to adjust to being without shoes slowly. To do so, start off by walking around your house barefoot. Once your feet are used to that, start walking on the grass outside without any shoes. By doing this, your feet will slowly begin to strengthen without being overworked. Continue walking outdoors until you are completely used to it. Keep doing this until it is no longer painful or uncomfortable.

Step Two: Walk Correctly

The second step is to make sure you are walking correctly. You may be surprised to find out the way you walk is incorrect. Many people do not realize they are walking incorrectly until they get repeatedly injured from running or walking. It is not at all uncommon and you will want to ensure you are walking properly before walking on a treadmill without shoes.

By correcting the way you walk, you will be able to avoid injuries. While walking, make sure you are doing so heel to toe. Do not place your weight on your foot until your entire foot is on the ground.

Many people also place their weight on the inside or outside edges of their feet, which can cause issues later on. Make sure you’re as centered as possible. Once you can ensure your walking technique is correct, then you can move to the treadmill!

Step Three: Try zero-drop shoes

The third step is to walk on the treadmill using zero-drop shoes. Zero-drop shoes are as close as you can get to being barefoot without actually being barefoot. Begin walking on the treadmill with these shoes to get your body used to being without shoes.

Step Four: Adjust the treadmill

Image of a woman operating a treadmill

The fourth step to walking on your treadmill barefoot is to adjust your treadmill. Overuse injuries are common on treadmills because of the consistency of your foot strike. While walking outdoors barefoot, there are inconsistencies in the ground that allow for strengthening and relief. However, your treadmill does not have these inconsistencies so it is important to adjust your treadmill frequently.

You can adjust a few different factors on your treadmill;

Both those settings and the combination of settings will change the footfall. Of course, on most treadmills, there are built-in programs that continuously change the speed and incline so you don’t have to do it yourself.

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Can You Walk On Socks On a Treadmill?

Now that you know you should not walk on a treadmill barefoot, or at least ease into it, you may be wondering if you can wear just socks. The short answer is no!

Do not wear socks in place of shoes. Wearing socks on the treadmill can be even more dangerous than being completely barefoot. By only wearing socks, you are increasing the chance of you slipping. Slipping on a treadmill can be extremely dangerous because it is continuously moving. With the sweat from your feet and the socks, you are almost sure to slip.

If you do have to run in socks, then ensure they have grip. Otherwise, you will not be able to keep your feet stable. In addition, most gyms will require that you wear shoes. Rather than walking with socks on the treadmill, try doing it on the grass or sand. This will be much more effective in strengthening your feet and legs, all the while reducing your chances of slipping.

Suggested: Is 30 minutes on a treadmill enough to see results?

If you have a treadmill, consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) This is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time and also improve your cardiovascular health. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the set up for any workout a breeze.

Dangers of Walking Barefoot

Image of bare feet

When walking on the treadmill barefoot, the main issue is the risk of injury. Without the extra cushion and stability of your shoes, you are more susceptible to injuries.

Treadmills do have damping in the deck that reduces the impact of the footfall on your joints. (And the noise transfer to the floor). However, that damping is built with people wearing running shoes in mind. Running shoes have a lot of damping built in as well, much more than the damping in the deck of a treadmill. It will help to get the treadmill with the most damping if you want to walk barefoot on it. Usually, higher-quality treadmills will have better damping than cheaper ones.

Workout shoes can be expensive, especially if you get a good pair. A quality pair of exercise shoes can be $100-$300. However, they can last for up to 500 miles. This means that you will likely not have to buy more than two pairs of shoes every year.

If you ignore the recommendations and walk barefoot, however, you will probably have to spend much more than this on medical bills. Instead of using the money to treat your injuries, use the money to buy shoes that you can wear on a treadmill.

Burns and blisters are also common from walking on the treadmill without shoes. The bottoms of your feet are likely to get beat up if you do not wear shoes. The bottoms of your feet are more sensitive than you might think and they need to be protected. Burns occur when the treadmill deck gets too hot and damages the foot. Blisters, however, are much more common. Blisters occur because of the friction between the treadmill and the barefoot.

Benefits Of Walking Barefoot

Although you should not walk on the treadmill barefoot, there are some benefits to doing so. The main benefit of barefoot walking is increased foot mechanics. When your foot mechanics increase, so do the mechanics of your hips and knees.

If you are properly trained to walk barefoot, then your overall risk of injury decreases. If trained correctly, then your feet will grow stronger and will be able to handle wearing no shoes. In addition, your form will also improve. However, this is mainly true when walking outside. When walking on the treadmill, the possibility of slipping still poses a risk.

Suggested post: How much does a home treadmill cost?

Favorite Cardio Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high-quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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