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Can You Go Barefoot On Elliptical? | Pros and Cons

Elliptical exercise machines offer low-impact cardio workouts allowing the trainees to melt tons of calories and improve overall strength and stamina.

Just like treadmills and bikes, ellipticals are very popular cardio machines commonly used at commercial and home gyms, but also by individuals who want to work out in the privacy of their homes. So, many users ask the question, can they work out barefoot on their ellipticals?

Published: January 25, 2023.

elliptical with running shoe 1

In short: Yes, You can work out barefoot on your own home elliptical. Such exercise will help You burn plenty of calories, and it will help You increase your general strength and stamina. Also, it will strengthen the feet' muscles, help stabilize ankles and give the feet a good massage.

However, when working out barefoot on an elliptical, disinfect the foot pedals before and after the exercise, try to avoid blisters on your feet, beware of foot sole pain, and be very careful not to slip and fall off the elliptical.

Commercial Gyms vs. Home Gyms

Commercial gyms feature all sorts of cardio machines, including ellipticals, of course.

However, commercial gyms feature dress codes, which almost always state that wearing proper workout shoes is necessary.

And personally, You should wear good workout shoes with good sports socks in any commercial gym all the time, but more on that later.

When working in the privacy of your home, in your home gym, or just with your elliptical, You can opt to work out on the elliptical with or without shoes.

Elliptical Foot Pedals

During the exercise, the trainee's feet are placed on the elliptical's foot pedals, which are usually made of tough and durable plastic with a layer of a rubber-like material shaped to improve the contact between the workout shoe and the pedal.

The contact is firm and safe as long as the surface is dry - when the pedals get wet, they can become very slippery.

Note: elliptical pedals may feature straps to hold the foot down, but that is not very common. Also, such straps may prevent trainees from stepping down off the elliptical in a hurry, or they can even limit the feet's range of motion during the exercise. Personally, I would never use straps on an elliptical - on a stationary bike, straps are OK, but not on an elliptical.

elliptical workout

Pros of Barefoot Elliptical Workout

Working out barefoot on an elliptical has several benefits, including:

More Natural Feeling

When the feet are directly in contact with the elliptical pedals, a trainee has a more natural feeling of the exercise and the exercise machine.

Avoiding "Lazy" Ankles and Feet

Workout shoes protect and support ankles and feet, which is often good, but it also means that ankles and feet get "lazy" and weak.

Of course, if You have never worked out on your elliptical barefooted, start slowly and gradually increase the barefoot exercise sessions.

Foot Sole Massage

When the foot soles are in direct contact with the uneven surface of elliptical pedals, as the workout progress, the foot soles get a very good massage, improving circulation and strengthening the foot muscles.

Note: elliptical pedals are flat, but they are textured to prevent feet from slipping. How heavily "textured" they are, varies from model to model.

Improved Air Circulation

While sports shoes and socks are good at collecting sweat during exercise, bare feet dry faster, improving the cooling effect and decreasing overall sweating.

bare foot

Cons of Barefoot Elliptical Workout

Working out barefoot on an elliptical has several cons as well, including:


During the barefoot exercise, all of the bacteria and other germs from feet are left on the elliptical's pedals - it doesn't sound nice, and it is not.

So, before and after the exercise, especially if You are not the only one who is working out barefoot on your elliptical, clean and disinfect the pedals.

Although sports shoes and socks collect sweat during exercise, they also protect from various bacteria and infections, which is one of the reasons why sports shoes are a must-have in commercial gyms.


No matter how well-textured elliptical pedals are, there is always a greater danger of slipping off the elliptical when working out barefoot than working out with sports shoes on.

And as the legs and feet get sweaty, this danger increases.

Foot Sole Pain

While getting some foot massage is great, foot sole and even heel pain is not good.

If You are uncustomed to barefoot workouts, start gradually.

Feet Blisters

While some foot massage is good, foot sole and heel pain is not, the foot blisters are by far the worst.

Feet blisters are caused by excessive barefoot exercise and perhaps too aggressive pedal texture. Regardless of the potential reasons, foot blisters should be avoided at any cost - if You have sensitive feet, start barefoot exercises slowly, or don't do it at all.

Feet blisters may be very painful and can cause various infections - in many cases, they even require medical attention.

What Are The Best Elliptical Sport Shoes?

Elliptical exercise is a low-impact workout that doesn't require any special sports shoes.

Personally, good running shoes are more than enough, and if You don't have one, general-purpose sports shoes are also good.

It is, however, very important that sports shoes are comfortable and that they fit well on the feet.

Few Final Words

As always in life, there are both pros and cons of working out barefoot at your home elliptical.

Barefoot elliptical workouts can bring many benefits to You, but at the same time, there are reasons to be extra careful.

Whatever You do, stay safe.

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