Going Barefoot: Why Less is More

As we go through our daily routines, the number one means of transportation from point A to point B are our feet. These perfectly engineered masterpieces are often taken for granted. While walking down the street to grab a cup of coffee or showing off some new dance moves at the bar, we often neglect how vital our feet are to performing these everyday tasks. For something so critical to our lives you would think that we would treat them with the utmost dignity and respect, right?


It is easy to forget about something when there is not much emphasis put on it by society. High-profile corporations are constantly pushing their agendas through the multiple channels of news, marketing, and advertising which they control. An overwhelming majority of products pushed today are designed for the sole purpose of producing a profit. The functionality of the product and the best interest of the consumer are pushed aside because the dollar rules all. This is no different when it comes to shoes. Conventional shoes are designed and marketed in a way which blindly leads the consumer into believing these shoes are the most beneficial for them. Thicker sole, higher heel, and a narrow toe box are all common characteristics of traditional shoes. By not allowing our feet to connect with the surface below, we deprive ourselves of physiological, neurological, and biomechanical benefits.


It is easy to forget about something when there is not much emphasis put on it by society. High-profile corporations are constantly pushing their agendas through the multiple channels of news, marketing, and advertising which they control. An overwhelming majority of products pushed today are designed for the sole purpose of producing a profit. The functionality of the product and the best interest of the consumer are pushed aside because the dollar rules all. This is no different when it comes to shoes. Conventional shoes are designed and marketed in a way which blindly leads the consumer into believing these shoes are the most beneficial for them. Thicker sole, higher heel, and a narrow toe box are all common characteristics of traditional shoes. By not allowing our feet to connect with the surface below, we deprive ourselves of physiological, neurological, and bio-mechanical benefits.


While being barefoot would be optimal, given the demands of modern life this is not always a viable option. A fantastic alternative and great way to keep that connection between the ground and your body is by incorporating the use of barefoot shoes. As barefoot shoes are quite different than conventional shoes, it is important to recognize the key differences: Barefoot shoes have a wide toe-box, zero heal-to-toe drop, and a flexible-thin sole.

By having a wide-toe box or natural shape to the shoe, it gives the foot plenty of room to re-align and re-strengthen, while allowing the toes to flex and splay out. Having a flexible-thin sole (no more than 8mm) allows your feet to reconnect to the ground and reap the benefits of the sensory feedback the feet provide to the brain. There are also many acupressure points on the foot connecting to different parts of the body; one can revitalize different body organs by stimulating these points though the use of low-profile, flexible-thin soles. As conventional shoes have a higher heel than toe structure of the shoe, barefoot shoes utilize zero-drop. This means that the heel and the ball of the shoe are the same height off the ground, allowing your Achilles tendon to lengthen while improving your foot’s alignment, stability, and helping to mitigate injuries. These key features of barefoot shoes lead to many different benefits, not only for your body but for the mind as well:


Healthy strong feet

Each foot is made up of over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. By caging your feet in over-supportive, narrow footwear, you deny your feet the ability to run wild and strengthen themselves naturally. Instead your feet become so accustomed to the “crutch” of the shoe that they never fully development and in fact can cause deformities such as bunions, bound toes and collapsed arches.


Aide in becoming pain free

An astonishing number of adults have low-back, hip, and knee pain. By exchanging your conventional shoes for barefoot shoes, these chronic issues can potentially subside. Since barefoot shoes have zero-drop, your heels are lower to the ground which not only lengthens your Achilles tendon but also lengthens and decompress your spine and lower-back, relieiving pressure and pain. This also assists in correcting your gait and posture by taking pressure off your knees and tilting your pelvic floor forward.


Balance and stabilization

The feet contain an abundant amount of nerve endings in the human body for a single body part. Nerve endings are used as a way for the body to send important information and stimulus to the brain so it may react in an appropriate manner to its environment. The use of conventional shoes inhibits this sensory feedback, so our brains do not recognize the imperfections on the surface below which can lead to slips and falls. Given that the structure of barefoot shoes complements and promotes our natural foot position, the toes are more comfortable and have room to splay, giving the foot a wider, sturdier base and creating stronger more functional toes.


Pure enjoyment

There is something to be said about walking barefoot on a grass field or letting your toes play in the sand while the waves crash upon the shore. The sensation and happiness that is felt when allowing the naked foot to meet the natural terrain surrounding us is invigorating and cannot be replicated. Fortunately, due to the thin soles of barefoot shoes, you can virtually mimic this feeling. By allowing your foot this luxury, one can feel less stressed and relieved of tension and anxiety. It is often a reminder of care-free childhood memories and gives the feeling of freedom. The direct communication with the earth truly re-energizes walking and makes it an enjoyable activity opposed to the common perception of a burden on our lives.



It is important to note that when you do make the jump to barefoot shoes, one must consider making a slow transition. Since your body is used to surviving in conventional shoes, there will be an adjustment period that varies on intensity from person to person. Depending on how often you walk barefoot already, this transition may be swift and seamless. I recommend walking for a couple hours a day in barefoot shoes to start. A good entry point for those who wear shoes in the house would be to opt for barefoot shoes while at home. You will immediately recognize the difference and benefits. Join me in the barefoot shoe lifestyle… your feet, body, and mind will thank you.


A few Barefoot Shoe Companies:

· Vivo Barefoot

· Be Lenka

· Xero

· Earth Runners

· Merrell

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