If you’re anything like me, then you are probably also intrigued by barefoot shoes. There is something about them that has always left me baffled and surprised. I couldn’t help but wonder what could be the benefits of barefoot shoes.
I have learned almost everything about these shoes from my friend Steven. A couple of years ago, he was actually dared to buy barefoot shoes and wear them for two weeks straight. At first, he was hesitant and didn’t want to be seen wearing them, but soon enough his opinion changed.
Long story short, Steven now rarely wears his regular shoes, and you can be sure you will always catch him proudly wearing a pair of his trusty barefoot ones. He says that’s the best thing that has ever happened to him and that he never felt more aligned with himself.
If you want to know what benefits of barefoot shoes Steven has graciously shared with me, keep on reading this article.
What are barefoot shoes?
But first things first, we have to briefly mention what barefoot shoes actually are. This is for all those who, like me, thought that this is the term for when you wear any type of shoes without socks. Silly me.
Anyway, barefoot shoes are shoes that allow the natural movement of the feet and provide as much freedom to the feet as possible. Some of their most important features are zero drop (or heel elevation), flexible and lightweight soles, wide toe box, and no support.
Most of the shoes we wear eventually squish our toes and limit the natural mobility of our feet. But barefoot shoes do the complete opposite. They are said to be the shoes for “people who want to use their feet forever.”
People of all ages can wear barefoot shoes. Even if they have certain foot conditions like flat feet, high arches, or plantar fasciitis. As long as they feel no pain and discomfort, barefoot shoes are a safe option for everyone.
So, if you want to give them a go, you can order yourself a pair of Whitin Minimalist Trail Runner shoes. They’re affordable so even if you don’t end up liking them, at least you’ll know that you didn’t break the bank for them.
What are the benefits of barefoot shoes?
1. Barefoot shoes make you feel more grounded
The first among many benefits of barefoot shoes is that they help you feel more grounded and connected to nature.
Regular shoes we’re all wearing every day have disrupted the connection with the ground which is actually something every human being needs. Thick soles and high heels have made a barrier between us and the ground we’re walking on and made us almost afraid of everything that’s underneath.
Think about it: it’s considered to be crazy and weird when someone steps outside barefoot. However, barefoot shoes can restore that belief.
These shoes do offer you some kind of barrier between your feet and the ground, but that barrier is much thinner. It’s there solely to protect you from dirt and sharp objects. More importantly, it offers you the experience of being connected to nature and everything that surrounds you.
There’s a sense of liberation when you’re able to feel the ground upon you’re walking, jogging, or running. This improves your energy and mood, brings peace and joy into your life, minimizes many risks of leg injuries, and betters your well-being in general.
2. Barefoot shoes help you run faster and burn more calories
Barefoot shoes are extremely lightweight, so many people feel as though they have nothing on their feet.
Regular running shoes usually feature thick soles, and although they can be very cushioned and provide enough support, they still can significantly restrict the natural range of your feet’s motion.
With barefoot shoes, however, you’re able to return to your natural running gate and cadence. With a zero drop, extreme flexibility, and low cushioning, your feet are forced to “work” which is why you’re able to run a bit faster.
And while regular running shoes do the majority of work for you, barefoot shoes challenge your feet to get involved. There’s no extra padding to propel you forward, so you have to put in more energy in order to move ahead.
This extra energy you have to spend equals more calories burnt. It’s as simple as that!
3. They improve your connection with your brain and your proprioception
These shoes improve your connection with your brain.
It’s crucial that our feet feel the ground they’re walking on. That sensory input is important since it betters the communication between your feet and your brain. When your brain understands what’s under your feet, it’s able to come to certain decisions quicker. This ensures you walk or run more naturally.
The soles of your feet also have proprioceptive nerves. These nerves are there to send information about the position and movement of your body to different parts of the brain which are in charge of different functions like movement control, spatial perception, balance, and so on.
4. They improve your posture and reduce back pain
Many people are starting to wear barefoot shoes because they are said to improve your posture and balance and reduce back pain.
Regular, everyday shoes with a heel-to-toe drop aren’t our natural stance, so they can cause your body to shift out of alignment. Higher heels are said to shorten our calf muscles, limit our range of motion, put our ankles in plantar flexion (a pointing down position) and cause that annoying lower back pain.
All of this has a great effect on other parts of our body: our knees and hips are in slight flexion, our hamstrings are shortened, and our pelvis is tilted to some degree in front. This results in our back being more arched, which causes pain, muscle imbalances, and misalignment.
Barefoot shoes, on the other hand, ensure our body stays upright in a way that’s more natural to us and improve our overall posture and balance. These shoes positively affect our leg muscles and tendons, which puts less stress on our spine.
5. Barefoot shoes reduce the risk of bunions and hammertoe
A bunion is a bony lump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe, and it occurs when bones in front move out of place. This causes your big toe to lean towards the other toes, forcing its joint to stick out and the skin to appear red and sore.
Hammertoe is one of the foot deformities that is characterized by an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the toe. It occurs because of the imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments which usually ensure the toe remains straight.
Both bunions and hammertoe can happen due to overly restrictive shoes we wear every day. But, barefoot shoes do the opposite. They ensure the toes are never squished together, providing them with enough wiggle room.
6. Barefoot shoes strengthen the muscles in your feet
For the most part, your regular everyday shoes force your feet into certain positions. This is not something entirely bad, many people wear these shoes and they feel fine. But it’s also not something your feet were created to go through.
Barefoot shoes do not force you into anything. They embrace the natural curve of your feet and ensure it has enough room to act and move naturally. That’s why it’s a bit challenging to wear these kinds of shoes at the beginning and why you need a certain adjustment period.
So, one of the benefits of barefoot shoes is that they ensure a better alignment of your feet which then encourages the strengthening of foot muscles. This feature secures better and more effective impact absorption and proper muscle engagement in the long run.
7. They minimize the risk of leg injuries
Another benefit of barefoot shoes is that they minimize the risk of various leg injuries.
When you wear barefoot shoes, every part of your legs gets stronger, because they don’t have as many features to rely on as they do with your regular shoes.
These shoes specifically target and better your feet. It is as though they “wake up” your ankles and motivate them to do the job they’re supposed to do.
Also, as we have already mentioned, they encourage the general strengthening of your feet muscles, and since these shoes don’t have raised heels (like many other regular shoes do), leg muscles and tendons are in a more natural position, which consequently prevents many knee, hip, and other leg injuries.
8. And finally, barefoot shoes are a way for you to experience something new
Let’s be honest, we all get that weird urge (from time to time) to change something about ourselves and our lives. Whether it be a new haircut, an entirely different wardrobe and style, or maybe an adoption of a new pet.
But how fun would it be for you to try barefoot shoes? And not to mention beneficial, too!
Buying barefoot shoes can be a great way to push yourself and do something different. The switch from regular to barefoot shoes can be hard and uncomfortable at first, but that’s nothing you can’t survive.
Many people who have tried barefoot shoes actually had a harder time going back to their old shoes. They loved this new experience because, for the first time in a long time, they were able to experience their life to the fullest. And all because their feet were finally free.
So, what are you waiting for? Go, get yourself a pair of barefoot shoes. I’m sure you won’t regret it!