Perhaps you have decided to buy a pair of minimalist shoes and feel unsure of what to expect of your feet once you start wearing them.
Here are the most common experiences when starting your barefoot journey to healthier, more functional feet.
Your Feet Will Change
We use barefoot shoes because of their many benefits. Throwing out your conventional shoes is like taking off a foot cast. Your foot is free to move in its natural way again. This increases the foot's strength, flexibility, stability & your overall balance.
Your feet will likely get wider and more muscular as you use barefoot shoes more regularly. For some, the actual length of the foot can change too! Wider shoes give more space for your toes to spread out, regaining their natural splay.
These changes do not happen overnight. It took me over a year to see any noticeable changes. Changes will vary from person to person depending on many different factors. These include how often you are barefoot and if you are doing exercises to help accelerate your progress.
Speaking Of Exercises...
Barefoot shoes are not a miracle cure. Too often, people purchase a pair and expect them to solve all their problems without any extra work.
Remember that you might have an entire lifetime of bad biomechanics and weak muscles from wearing conventional shoes. The habits you've spent a lifetime reinforcing don't go away quickly. Habits like a heavy heel strike or an unusual walking gait will still cause problems whether you wear barefoot shoes or not.
In these cases, be patient and use other tools, alongside barefoot shoes, to improve your biomechanics and overall movement. There are a lot of foot-specific exercises you can do and can be included in your daily routine.
Alongside exercises, there are great accessories that can help accelerate your progress. Toe spacers are great to encourage your toes back towards their natural spread more quickly. Socks can also slow your progress down and so look for barefoot-friendly socks.
There are also powerful online movement courses that give you a fantastic foundation early on in the process and a whole load of professional experts you can call on if you need help.
Remember, this is a process for life and not a short-term fix. These changes take time.
A Note On Comfort
Barefoot shoes are not as 'comfortable' as your previous conventional shoes. It takes time to build the muscles and function back to your feet, so it is normal for your feet to feel tired wearing. It makes sense, your feet are working for a change.
Stick with it. It gets easier and the long-term results are worth it.
Don't forget, you can always alternate between your barefoot shoes and your conventional ones or, you can go for a shoe that is good for making the transition.