Are you a fan of barefoot shoes or just new to this field, if you want to join the barefoot adventure, but find all the terminology and choice a little confusing?
Don’t worry about it,we’ll help you take the right first steps in reconnecting with your feet and the natural world.
To put it simply, barefoot footwear (or ‘minimalist’ footwear, as it’s sometimes called) strips away the extra bits of traditional shoes. The aim is to allow your feet to move more naturally, and to grow stronger and more agile as a result. Barefoot footwear still protects your feet from weather and harsh terrain, but it does so with less shoe.
There are many different types of barefoot footwear. But all of them have these key characteristics:
No heel-to-toe drop. Heel-to-toe drop is the difference in elevation, in millimetres, between the forefoot and the heel. A proper barefoot shoe should have zero drop - just like your feet! By comparison, traditional running shoes have an 8-14mm drop. Some supposedly barefoot footwear is actually ‘low-profile’ footwear, with a 4-7mm drop. Less drop than normal shoes, but not truly barefoot.
A wide toe box. The toe box is, as you might have guessed, the space for your toes. Barefoot shoes have wide toe boxes, with space for your toes to splay and recoil. Traditional shoes, including normal running shoes, are tapered, pushing your toes together and compromising their strength and agility.
Less padding and support. Traditional shoes have many types of padding and support, including arch support, ankle support and padded soles (higher stack height, remember!). Barefoot footwear has none of this, helping your feet build strength.
Lightweight and flexible. Because of their minimalist design, truly barefoot shoes will be the lightest and most flexible out there.
Tips for your first barefoot steps:
Whether you’re a hiker, a runner or just want everyday footwear for work, there are a few things to remember before charging excitedly outside for your first barefoot adventure.
If you’re new to barefoot, your feet will be used to heel-to-toe drops, high stacks, narrow shoes, tapered toe boxes and lots of padding and support. Going barefoot means the 33 joints in your foot, and the many tendons, muscles and bones, will finally get to move freely! This is fantastic, and will make your feet stronger, but it will take time to adjust. So go slowly.
Explore your new barefoot shoes
Zero-drop shoes help your body with better posture and balance. They allow you to stand upright in a more natural fashion. Some people even notice improvements in knee, hip, and back health.
If you suffer from lower back pain or have difficulty staying balanced or maintaining an upright posture, consider minimalist, barefoot shoes. They have positive effects on your muscles and tendons and lead to less stress on your spine.
If you've ever experience foot pain, you know how bad it can affect your life. Free feet are naturally strong and in better shape. They have carried humans through life without additional support for over 2 million years.
Ditch your conventional shoes and choose the natural, barefoot route. Minimalist shoes offer numerous advantages similar to being completely barefoot with more social acceptance and protection against the hazards of modern life.
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