Foot strengthening

  • Why? To activate and strengthen the muscles of the feet.
  • How? Perform the following exercises at a slow and controlled tempo.
  • Prerequisites: Complete Barefoot Running Step 1


What excercises strengthen your feet?

Picking things up with your feet

Pick ups with feet

  • Using a sock / small towel / marbles or anything you can think of pick up item with toes, hold for 4 seconds then drop.
  • Do this from a standing position as it will improve balance on supporting leg. Use a wall or chair to help maintain balance if needed.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions with 90 seconds between repetitions.


Towel claws

  • Place a small to medium sized towel on the floor.
  • From a seated position use toes to ‘claw’ the towel towards you.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 4-6 repetitions with 90 seconds between repetitions.

Towel Claws Towel Claws

Safe squats

  • Use a wall/ chair/ pillar to balance and place hands at mid torso level.
  • Squat or sit as low back as you can go extending arms over head.
  • Ensure your back is straight and chin is up and try to get thighs horizontal to floor.
  • Stand up and repeat.
  • Adjust hand position to suit your own range of motion. At your lowest most point arms should be fully extended and back straight.

Safe squats Safe squats

Side lunge

  • Start with feet together, step out with right foot and ‘sit’ back into right leg.
  • Keep chin up and back straight.
  • Push off right foot to return to starting position.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 6 repetitions on right and 6 on left.

Side lunge Side lunge

  • Use a pillar or chair for support if needed.

Side lunge


Start off week 3 by walking at a brisk pace in Vibrams/ barefoot for a period of 5 minutes, followed by alternating light jogging for 1 minute, walking for 1 minute for a total of 10 minutes. Finish with 5 minutes walking. Do this three times per week.

For week 4 add 5 minutes to the jogging/ walking portion of each session making sessions 25 minutes in total. Do this three times per week.

Walking/ jogging may be done on the same day as the strengthening exercises but it does not have to. However, it is suggested that you continue to use the walks as a warm up for the stretching routine.


Advancing to Step 3

Once you have completed Barefoot Running Steps 1 & 2 you can move on to Barefoot Running Step 3.

** Medical Disclaimer **

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This training programme is intended as a guide to the transition from shod running to barefoot running. For a comprehensive, individualised programme please contact DCU Sport High Performance Centre. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider. Mild soreness after exercise may be experienced after beginning any new exercise regime. Contact your physician or physio/ athletic therapist if the soreness does not improve after 2-3 days.

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