Barefoot shoes are becoming more and more popular, as people realize the benefits they have.
They provide most of the benefits of being barefoot whilst still wearing shoes. This article will discuss all of the different benefits that barefoot shoes can provide for you!
More Natural Way Of Moving
Minimalist, barefoot shoes allow you to move naturally, just as your ancestors have for thousands of years. They didn't have Nike Airs, so it's clear the design of our feet are not the problem but rather our modern lifestyles.
The design of conventional shoes is problematic. They force you to move your body in a way that's not optimal. After a lifetime of wearing them, the best-case scenario is that you have weak feet that are used to the extra from support shoes. In the worst case, you'll have foot problems and injuries like bunions, plantar fasciitis etc from moving unnaturally for a long period.
The more support our feet get, the weaker they become. And the weaker they become, the more support they need. It's important to break this cycle.
Barefoot shoes combat these problems by allowing the foot to move naturally, making the foot do the work it was designed for. The way you stand, the way you walk and run, you're whole body movements will fundamentally change to a more natural way of being. You're essentially taking off the 'cast' that's been restricting your movement for decades.
This leads to...
More Strength, Flexibility, Stability & Balance
Our feet and legs are designed to move through the world absorbing shocks and supporting themselves. By returning to this natural way of moving, you can restore muscle strength in your feet and legs.
Due to the features of barefoot shoes, we start to use and rebuild all of the smaller muscle groups in our feet and lower legs. This makes our muscles and joints more stable, it forces them to be stronger with greater flexibility.
By returning to a more natural way of moving and rebuilding the strength and flexibility in our feet, many of the foot problems that plague our modern life can be reduced or even reversed.
Further to that, the shape of the shoe is very important. Barefoot shoes are 'foot-shaped'. That means instead of getting narrower towards the toes, they get wider.
Forcing our toes together means we have less balance and are likely to develop bunions and other deformities. By giving our toes more space to spread out, over time they will splay out more, further improving our balance and potentially reversing deformities that have developed.
Transitioning to barefoot shoes can strengthen the foot and realign muscle fibres. It can improve ankle stability and therefore prevent injuries and help relieve lower back pain, and reduce pain caused by injured knees and hips. We’ve written before in more detail about how they can have an impact in preventing and recovering from plantar fasciitis and help with bunions.
Going barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes opens up a world of sensation and movement that we didn't have when wearing conventional shoes.
You get to feel the ground, the textures and your feet working. Simply moving becomes a more mindful and fun experience!
Improved proprioception with the ground also leads to improved balance and better movement control.
Barefoot shoes are not for everyone, some feet do need to be supported. But unnecessary support seems to be the current default and is this is a problem.
It can take time to rebuild the muscles and transition to being comfortable barefoot again. Be cautious, go slowly and use strength exercise to help build up faster.
We can all do things to improve our bodies and going barefoot or using barefoot shoes is one of the best ways.