Drumming without shoes - caution

311Spider

Member
I started drumming without my shoes on (just socks) for the past 5 years, mainly because we don't wear shoes in the house and I guess I was too lazy to put them on when going down in the basement to practice. Well, it has finally caught up with me. I now have a bunion on both feet because of it. And I know it is because of my drumming because having a full time desk job, I really don't do much else with my feet other than drumming - and I practice about an hour each day.

I know there are a lot of people who play without shoes, and i wanted to let them know that there are risks involved in it.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Interesting thread - thanks for creating it!

Could you give some more details? That could help interpreting your situation.

- (If I'm not mistaken) Do you have your pedal(s) set up under your work desk so you can effectively practice foot techniques on your pedal(s) while working? (That's what I do - more details later.)

- Do you use/practice on a single or double pedal?

- Which foot techniques do you practice/play? Which exercises (if any)?

- Are you using various socks? (Various thickness = various damping effect)

- What are your next steps (after letting your feet heal)? Return to using footwear?
 
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zambizzi

Platinum Member
Hmm...I only play in socks. I play gigs that way, almost every weekend, too. No problems yet! Sorry you're having an issue...maybe it's a technique thing?
 

Arky

Platinum Member
I haven't noticed any peculiarities with my feet, playing barefoot.

I'm into drums for 16 months and I'm playing barefoot (socks only) most of the time. Only recently have I decided to use footwear every now and then, but only for variation (just gives a somewhat different playing feel) and to spare my feet to some extent (footwear = stabilising effect, less strain on the ankles, and also more punch/volume).

As to techniques - I'm doing everything except slide (which I can't properly), up to pretty high speed. Most recently singles w/ swiveling but even this somewhat radical technique hasn't brought any problems. (I think that playing various techniques helps preventing the feet from repetitive detrimental motions in case there's a foot technique issue - unless there are issues in foot technique in several if not all techniques applied. Also, I think working on several foot techniques improves the overall foot control/feel and helps learning new stuff.)

My double pedal is set up under my PC desk. Working at home and being at the PC most of the time, I can practice quite a lot of footwork over the day. 2-3.5 hours average, almost daily. I'm giving this info for comparison. The only problems I'm running into is my calves/feet getting tired (=quite normal), and some strain buildup in my tendons (esp. right one). Some rest would be the cure.

I'm also doing some runs every few days (usually 4-10 km). Doing some sports in addition to drumming might be a good idea to provide an overall strengthening effect for the body (including the feet).

When I'm starting a long practice I would either use footwear from the beginning or for the second half of my practice, to reduce the strain on my feet. But when doing several shorter practice sessions and some rests in-between I'm mostly playing barefoot.
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Hmm. Sounds like a technique thing to me. I've been playing for over 30 years and most of that time has probably been spent practicing barefooted or with socks only and my feet are fine. I'm willing to bet you may have gotten the bunions with shoes on anyway?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Generally you get bunions from overly tight shoes. I have mild bunions because once I noticed them forming I gave up heels. I still drum barefoot but my bunions have not worsened.

Quote:
Bunions most commonly affect women. Some studies report that bunions occur nearly 10 times more frequently in women.. It has been suggested that tight-fitting shoes, especially high-heel and narrow-toed shoes, might increase the risk for bunion formation

Bunions are reported to be more prevalent in people who wear shoes than in barefoot people. While the precise causes are not known, there also seems to be inherited (genetic) factors that predispose to the development of bunions, especially when they occur in younger individuals.
Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/bunions/article.htm#2whodevelo
 
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sticks4drums

Guest
Generally you get bunions from overly tight shoes. I have mild bunions because once I noticed them forming I gave up heels. I still drum barefoot but my bunions have not worsened.

Quote:
Bunions most commonly affect women. Some studies report that bunions occur nearly 10 times more frequently in women.. It has been suggested that tight-fitting shoes, especially high-heel and narrow-toed shoes, might increase the risk for bunion formation

Bunions are reported to be more prevalent in people who wear shoes than in barefoot people. While the precise causes are not known, there also seems to be inherited (genetic) factors that predispose to the development of bunions, especially when they occur in younger individuals.
Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/bunions/article.htm#2whodevelo
Like Polly said, bunions are usually caused by narrow toed shoes, so being shoeless should actually help. Do either of your parents have them. Maybe you need to look at your foot technique.
 

311Spider

Member
To give a little more detail, I practice on a Pearl Eliminator double pedal on a Roland V-drum set. I have a pair of Futz pedals under my desk at work that i occassionally practice on, but not too much. Most of my "off set" foot practice is just heals down, tapping the floor.

I was given an expensive pair of sole inserts from the foot doctor, which he says will give me arch support.

As for this being a result of poor technique, maybe, but I doubt it. My teacher is Dom Famularo, and if anyone could spot bad technique I'd bet he could - and he hasn't mentioned anything to me. Heredity? Not that I know of.

The bunion on my right foot is larger/worse than the one on my left foot, which makes sense and proves that I haven't been working as hard on my left foot.

I practiced for the first time last night with a pair of sneakers, and I probably had the best practice in a long time with my feet! I will be playing with shoes from now on.

I'm not saying if you play without shoes that you're going to get bunions on your feet. Just saying that it is a possibility - and maybe i am more susceptible to getting them than most, who knows.
 
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sticks4drums

Guest
Well, you have a great teacher, that is for sure. Maybe you can get some free Mapex stuff off of him, if you play your cards right. :) Most people play with whatever they have on at the time, at home, so if it was a major issue, you think you would hear about it more. I usually play with my loose leather moccasins, just because it is too much trouble to always put my drum shoes on at home. Hopefully you can get your feet to stay where they are now, by using proper foot wear. Good luck.
 

Naigewron

Platinum Member
Had a rehearsal on a hot day, so I was wearing flip-flops that day. No spare shoes at the rehearsal studio, so I had to play barefoot.

Long story short, it seems there's a screw on my pedals that somehow caught my toe, resulting in me ripping much of the skin off my big toe. Blood everywhere, and painful to walk or wear shoes for a couple of weeks. I always keep a spare pair of shoes at our studio now.

edit: Wow, didn't see how old this thread was. Oh well :)
 
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Nour Ayasso

Senior Member
I take my shoes off before every show. Less friction, more sliding, more freedom. My leg doesn't stiffen up and I get more use from technique/ankle work.
Cons: holes in my socks, have to play hot lava on stage xD
 

FreDrummer

Silver Member
I was given an expensive pair of sole inserts from the foot doctor, which he says will give me arch support.

The bunion on my right foot is larger/worse than the one on my left foot, which makes sense and proves that I haven't been working as hard on my left foot.
(EDIT: sorry, I see this is an old thread, but hope my experiences/insights might help others facing foot issues.)

The following is my opinion ONLY (based on experiences in my household):

If your "foot doctor" is a podiatrist, RUN AWAY!!! RUN AWAY!!! (I'm guessing he is, as selling "expensive...sole inserts" seems to be the stock in trade of the podiatrist's children's college fund). Better to see an orthopedic surgeon specializing in feet (again, this is my opinion based on my wife's and my experience).

I wouldn't jump to conclusions about the right foot/left foot comparisons. I had extensive foot surgery in April on my right foot by an orthopedic surgeon (bunion removal, double osteotomy and ligament lengthening/shortening to straighten my big toe). If one were to guess at the cause, it would likely be my ski boots. I ski a LOT, so I like tight, perfect-fitting performance boots (mine have custom fit insoles). However, my left foot is just fine...and I pressure my left foot and right foot equally throughout a ski day, so why problems with only the right foot? I pointedly asked my surgeon to evaluate my left foot to see if I might have problems with it going forward -- he said "no." His opinion was it was a simple case of bad geometry in my right big toe, not any specific activity I had done.
 

shemp

Silver Member
I've been playing barefoot for 5 years....skipped maybe 30 out of those roughly 1800 days....practice is always 90 minutes of full go; Do not stop, pass go, collect $200 or take a whiz. I also do a lot of kick foot practice because, well, I was not gifted with talent.

Anyway, probably an obsessive amount of kick pedal work, barefoot, all good. No issues. I love the feedback from the pedal and to me it offers an increased feeling of control.

I will offer that playing barefoot with my size foot, 13, makes it more difficult for me to use heel toe doubles on anything but a longboard.....that's the only drawback in my case. The heel plate of std boards beats my heel up real bad and sliding the whole foot up onto the pedal is not an option with size 13. It can be done, yes, but a longboard just removes the impediment and makes it far easier and more comfortable.
 

Noisemakers

Junior Member
Interesting. I play barefoot 99% of the time when I'm practicing. I can't play in just socks though because I feel like my foot slips on the pedal and I don't have control.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Interesting. I play barefoot 99% of the time when I'm practicing. I can't play in just socks though because I feel like my foot slips on the pedal and I don't have control.
Exactly....that feedback and feeling of control is missing when the sock is on. I agree.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Akin to having callouses on your fingers from playing with no gloves. I used to have callouses on my fingers, don't anymore. I've never worn gloves.

Pedal boards have a lot to do with the barefoot thing, the smoothness of the board.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I play barefoot on my own kit. I do not think I'd play barefoot on anyone else's. Not that I believe it's really bad for me or will catch anything, just that I find it revolting.
 
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