Think the whole “barefoot” sneaker trend is just for runners? Think again. According to researchers at Hong Kong’s Poly University, wearing minimalist shoes while exercising can make your legs and feet significantly stronger than wearing regular sneakers.
The six-month study followed 18 runners in regular kicks and 20 runners in minimalist shoes (stretchy-fabric uppers, zero heel-to-toe drop, and a 3mm outer sole—no midsole cushioning or arch support). At the end, the regular-shoe wearers’ leg/foot muscles hadn’t grown—but the leg muscles of the barefoot-shoe folks had gone up in size by 7%, their foot muscles by 9%, forefoot muscles by 12%, and rear-foot muscles by 7%.
And though the study was done on runners, researchers believe that wearing a similar shoe during other types of workouts, including lifting, will bring similar results.
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