Why You Should Switch to Barefoot Shoes
Updated: Jun 20
Are barefoot shoes good for you?
Yes! Barefoot shoes are excellent for your feet!
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A Bit About Human Feet:
Our feet are made up of a complex network of bones and ligaments, specifically designed for walking, running, jumping, climbing, etc. Our bodies are designed and built to live on planet Earth, with rocks and grass and lots of movement required from us to survive.
Think of your feet like a stone archway. If you support the arch from underneath, the arch will weaken and eventually collapse. Your feet are the same way!
Most modern shoes hinder this natural design. Most shoes compress the toes, eventually leading to bunions. They provide a cushy arch support that hinders the natural side-to-side rocking that helps us balance. Most shoes keep the heel elevated to some degree, causing many people back, knee, or hip pain.
Are you a runner, or know any runners personally? Most every runner I know (my own experience running included) has suffered from some kind of foot, knee, or hip pain at some point in their running journey.
Is it natural that most runners experience pain?
Humans are built to run! Then what’s the problem with runners today? It’s our footwear! Modern footwear prevents natural movement. Over time, this weakens our feet. Our feet need the stress and movement that going barefoot provides to stay strong!
(I'm sure not all runners' pain/injuries are related to footwear, but I suspect many are caused by footwear or worsened over time by footwear.)
Personally, I know a LOT of people with foot problems. Pain when barefoot, pain when standing or walking for too long, bunions, etc. It seemed inevitable for a long time that as I aged, I would have to pay closer attention to my footwear. I just thought, "Once I hit 40, I'll need to always buy expensive shoes with good cushion and arch support." I know many people who wear shoes 100% of the time when they are not in bed or taking a shower because of foot pain.
Our feet, being the foundation that we stand on, also affect our knees, hips, and back. Knee, hip, or back pain might be stemming from the feet!
Most people think that the solution to these problems is to get shoes with more support. However, this only makes the problem worse. Most foot problems are a result of our modern footwear!
Our feet become weaker and weaker over the years, AND our ability to balance gets worse and worse! The REAL, long-term solution is footwear that allows for natural movement.
Our feet need a WIDE toe spread for optimal balance. A high arch for strength. And plenty of natural movement in all directions!
If you have had pain/problems with your feet, you should be cautious about switching to barefoot shoes. Barefoot shoes put stress on your feet (just like exercising in a gym puts stress on muscles), so be aware when switching over.
Here’s one of my personal favorite resources on the subject: Born to Run. Born to Run is written by a journalist who dives deep into the idea that human beings are born to run! It’s an easy, fun read that is both inspiring and educational.
Another resource I enjoyed was the book, Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman.
Any of Katy's books are an excellent resource on the topic. I've read 3 of her books, and this one offered the most concise and practical overview of natural movement, including natural foot movement. She encourages incorporating more natural movement into ALL parts of life. This book really changed the way I think about movement in my everyday life.
Going barefoot every day is obviously not an option, but luckily barefoot shoes exist and are very accessible! Barefoot shoes can be expensive. I’ve made the switch in my own closet slowly to spread out the expense and to find exactly what I like.
Here are 4 tips to switch over to barefoot shoes:
1. Evaluate your existing shoes.
Do they have a wide-toe box? Is the sole of the shoe level? Are they comfortable? Then they’re probably fine! Keep ‘em! Many sandals fall into this category as well as water shoes and some tennis shoes.
2. Check your local thrift stores!
Again, look for the wide toe box, level sole, and comfort. Who knows, you might even find fancy expensive name-brand barefoot minimal shoes in your thrift stores! But if not, look for the tips above.
3. Check online thrift stores.
Go into the fancy sports store, try on the too-expensive barefoot shoe, take a picture of the shoe, and then go on Poshmark or another online second-hand store, and find it cheaper! Save the environment and your money!
4. Buy new shoes.
I’ve linked some of my affordable finds that I found new. And yes! I did actually buy these shoes, and I wear them every day!
The whole process of switching out my shoes to barefoot shoes was pretty easy for me. Even before making the switch, I personally usually wear the same shoes over and over again.
Here are some of my recommendations from my own closet!
These are my absolute favorite tennis shoes! So cute and comfortable! I wear them to work AT LEAST twice a week right now. Keeping them clean can be a bit of a challenge, but that's just a part of owning a white shoe.
Both I and my husband have these shoes! He wears them just out and about, and I wear them to the gym. Let me tell you, barefoot shoes in the gym are the way to go! Especially if you're lifting weights, barefoot shoes
are a MUST! They allow the full toe spread, and a side-to-side motion to balance, and your whole foot is engaged in the movement, building stability and muscle.
I own some similar to this, but not the exact ones. I have been EYEING these though! They are super cute, and I love the toe strap to keep your foot from sliding forward when you go downhill. (I actually found similar ones at a thrift store).
And of course, just like I sometimes still indulge in a sugary dessert, I still sometimes wear regular shoes. Some shoes are just too cute to get rid of! I DO wear barefoot shoes 90% of the time to keep my feet strong and healthy! During the summer months, a lot of sandals allow for natural movement, so I opt for sandals. And of course, I go barefoot whenever possible!
Barefoot shoes encourage natural movement, which is part of an ancestral lifestyle. If you want to learn more about natural living, see my post here: Principles of an Ancestral Lifestyle.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Have you ever tried barefoot shoes? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments.
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