Footloose and Fancy Free!
Looking to buy a new pair of trainers? Have you considered trying a pair of barefoot shoes? Although they have been around for years I am a recent convert after reading 'Every Women's Guide to Foot Pain Relief - The New Science of Healthy Feet' by Katy Bowman. It's a short, easy read and would definitely recommend to any woman (or man!) who has tight calves or lower leg muscle pain, bunions, hammer toes, poor posture or alignment, plantar fasciitis etc. Barefoot shoes have got a bit of a bad rep as most people immediately think of the slightly strange looking 5 finger shoes! However there are many ‘normal’ looking barefoot shoes out there now to choose from and not just trainers – you can get barefoot or minimalist boots, sandals and shoes as well.
What is a barefoot shoe? Barefoot shoes are just like the name suggests, they allow your feet to move as if they are barefoot. The features that make a shoe barefoot are:-
wide toe box (top part of the shoe where your toes go) to allow the toes to move
the sole must be flexible so you can roll it up in into a ball and also very thin (max. 6mm)
no heel, completely flat so the whole foot is level
lightweight containing no orthotics
What are the benefits of barefoot shoes?
thanks to the foot shaped nature of barefoot shoes, your feet can move as nature intended without being constricted by tough inflexible shoes
by wearing ‘normal’ rigid shoes your feet muscles tend to get weak as all the padding around the shoe does all the work. Barefoot shoes will not only strengthen the muscles in the feet but also help the foot to develop the correct way to prevent deformities
the way our feet function has a massive impact on our bodies. There is a kinetic chain running from our big toes, through our arch, up our legs, hips and spine, so if your feet cant move properly then you’ll likely suffer with knee, hip and back pain
wearing barefoot shoes will improve your balance as the nerve endings in your feet will send information to your brain of the imperfections of the ground you’re walking/standing on
Can I switch to barefoot shoes straight away? It depends. If you suffer from foot pain you’ll most likely need to spend some time transitioning yourself into barefoot shoes. Switching to barefoot shoes overnight is not going to be a quick fix, you’ll need to spend time gradually strengthening your foot muscles. As Anya from Anya’s Reviews (no connection to me btw!) says, ‘’not strengthening your feet when you switch to minimalist shoes is like wearing a cast for years and then not doing any physical therapy when you take it off. Barefoot shoes will only benefit you if your feet can do what your old supportive shoes used to, and that requires MUSCLE.’’ She has written a great article about transitioning to barefoot shoes which you can find here https://anyasreviews.com/foot-exercises-transitioning-barefoot-shoes/