Walking is one of the easiest ways to get in shape. Simply throw on a pair of shoes and head outside! It provides excellent physical and mental benefits plus it’s free! But if you want to get more out of your walk, you may want to have a look at barefoot shoes. If you don’t think it matters what you wear on your feet, read on!
Wearing the right kind of shoe is important to be comfortable and injury free. With so many styles of shoes on the market today it is hard to determine which is best for you. When you start doing your research you will find that most walking shoes on the “best sellers” list have thick soles, elevated heels, extra cushioning, and added support. But do we really need that?
Some studies have shown that wearing these stiff rigid shoes is almost like putting our feet in casts. They protect our feet so much that we lose strength and mobility in our feet. So, what is the alternative? Research is suggesting that walking in barefoot shoes (also known as minimalist or zero drop) may be a better option for our foot health and function.
What exactly is a barefoot shoe and what are the benefits?
A barefoot shoe has an extremely flexible sole that allows the foot to move through the full range of motion. The sole can be twisted in all directions, therefore allowing the foot to move naturally. The muscles and ligaments of the feet re-develop and strengthen.
A thin sole provides better proprioception and feedback from the ground. Having a better feel of the ground beneath lets you adjust your steps on different terrain to prevent slips and falls. The thin sole also provides reflexology benefits. Pressure points on the bottom of the feet are stimulated that can result in improved circulation, more energy, and better organ function.
Wide Toe Box
A barefoot shoe has a wide toe box that allows your toes to splay out naturally. Not only is this more comfortable but it can also help with stability and balance.
A zero-drop heel means that the toes and the heel are at the same height. This puts the body in a natural alignment, improving posture and putting less stress on the ankles, knees and back. It also leads to a more natural action of landing on the ball of the foot or toes instead of the heel. This reduces impact and results in a more efficient stride and a lighter step.
A barefoot shoe should be extremely lightweight with no extra padding or cushioning. There should be nothing to interfere with the natural movement of the foot, you should feel like you are walking barefoot.
Wearing barefoot shoes while walking can be a positive experience. However, there is a transition period required if you have not worn them before. Please read the following blog to see how to make the change from a traditional shoe to a barefoot shoe properly to prevent injury.