Protect Your Feet When Playing Without Shoes


Foot and ankle surgeons offer foot and ankle safety advice pertaining to “barefoot sports”

Chicago, November 29, 2016-Whether hitting the mat, sand or beam, take preventive measures to protect your feet against common injuries incurred while playing sports that don't require shoes, urges the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).

Such activities can include gymnastics, martial arts, beach volleyball, wrestling and even running, to name a few. Still, whether it is an activity that has recently evolved, or a person who is a novice or experienced player, the same level of precaution should be applied.  

"When participating in "barefoot sports," a person's feet are vulnerable to elements that are not as much of a concern when wearing shoes," said Wenjay Sung, DPM, FACFAS, a California-based foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.  

"In treating patients with foot or ankle injuries that result from playing a sport that exposes their feet, I remind them of the importance of allowing their feet time to become acclimated to playing without footwear. Similarly, patients who are experienced in playing sports without footwear should maintain some degree of caution, as well. Remember, without shoes, no barrier exists between their feet and direct contact with the surfaces around them," said Dr. Sung.  

According to Sung, those new to playing sports without shoes are more prone to spraining their toes and injuring the forefoot, which ends where the arch of the foot begins. Also, common injuries associated with such sports, particularly running, include an Achilles strain or tendonitis, metatarsal fractures and soreness.

As a general rule of thumb, participants playing sports sans footwear should be mindful of their playing surface. Unclean or rough surfaces can result in cuts, bruises and abrasions to the feet, or to a more serious condition, like an ankle sprain, due to the impact of a coarse surface.

"As a preventive measure against foot injuries, I encourage patients to tape their feet before playing barefoot sports. Taping can decrease the chances of incurring an injury, as is stabilizes the foot and serves as a thin protective layer. However, tape should not be used as a form of treatment for self-diagnosed injuries in place of seeing a foot and ankle surgeon," Dr. Sung said.    

If you plan on taking up a barefoot sport, or if you have a foot or ankle injury sustained from playing a barefoot sport, see your foot and ankle surgeon for treatment or injury prevention advice.  

To find a foot and ankle surgeon in your area, or for more information on maintaining foot and ankle safety when playing sports without footwear, visit ACFAS' patient education website at


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