Choosing the proper shoe can be a daunting task. There are so many to choose from and how do you know what is right for you? Running shoe technology has changed over the years, mostly to provide more cushioning and protection to our feet.
The problem with traditional running shoes is that they put feet in what most would concede is an unnatural position. This forces you to run with a jarring heel strike that can cause strain to the foot, calf, knee and back. Traditional running shoes offer so much protection that for many of us, our feet lose strength because we aren’t using the muscles and tendons as much.
Barefoot shoes allow our feet to remain in what most would consider a natural position. A zero-drop means the ball of the foot and heel are the same distance from the ground. This puts our body into a more natural alignment which can lead to better posture. Wearing a barefoot shoe can lead to a more natural toe strike, which can lead to less strain on joints.
However, transitioning from a traditional shoe to a barefoot shoe will require some patience and practice. Your feet will need an adjustment period to build up strength from lack of use. You’ll need to listen to your body and feet to gradually make the switch.
9 Tips For Transitioning To Barefoot Shoes
- Be cautious to avoid overuse injuries. Switching to a barefoot shoe will affect all the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your foot and calf. Your Achilles tendons will need time to stretch.
- Wear your barefoot shoes a little each day, just around the house to start. A little will go a long way in the long run. Gradually increase the time you wear the shoes as you get more comfortable and stronger.
- Practice walking with a toe strike instead of a heel strike. This usually happens naturally when you switch to a barefoot shoe but can still take some time getting used to.
- Monitor the changes that are happening to your feet and body.
- Pay attention to the way your feet are feeling when you are walking. If it hurts, adjust your stride. Practice on a hard surface that will give your feet immediate feedback on your form.
- After you start to feel stronger and more comfortable, wear your shoes for a short dog walk or grocery run.
- Avoid hills for a while. Allow your Achilles to slowly lengthen.
- Perform exercises and stretches that will relax any soreness. Gently roll a tennis or lacrosse ball under each foot a few times a day.
- Spend a few months walking in your shoes before you attempt to go for a run. Keep it short to start.
Take your time and your feet will thank you. There is nothing like feeling the sensation of the ground beneath your feet.