What are Barefoot Shoes?
At LatitudePT, we believe that exposure to a more natural way of walking or running is beneficial for everyone. Most people in our society will experience foot dysfunction and pain at some point in their lifetime. This is at least partially due to the shortcomings of modern footwear, lack of exposure to natural surfaces, and a more sedentary lifestyle. A shoe that more closely mimics being barefoot will promote improved function while stimulating strength and mobility of the foot and ankle. The ideal exposure to a new way of walking will depend on the individual and their experience.
When shopping for barefoot shoes (sometimes called natural, zero drop, or minimalist shoes), it's important to realize that they are not all created equal. Thankfully, The Running Clinic has created an excellent rating system to help determine how minimal a particular shoe is. How minimal of a shoe is appropriate for you can depend on several factors, thus it is highly recommended to consult with a professional, especially if you plan on wearing them for high impact activities such as running.
However, a true barefoot shoe is thin, flexible, wide in the toe box, and has a zero drop, meaning it places the toes and the heel at the same height. If you've become very accustomed to highly supportive shoes, you may want to find something between what you're using now and a completely minimal shoe.
It's important to note that even with improved footwear, old dysfunctional patterns can be persistent, and working with a skilled professional can be very helpful with your transition.
Lastly, no matter where you live, we would love to help. Whether your reasons for wanting to go barefoot are to improve life long migraines, to heal your feet and body from a lifetime of neglect, to improve your posture, or to simply improve your sleep, LatitudePT would love to aid you in your journey. Sign up for one of our monthly memberships and get started today!
The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in native barefoot walkers
The American College of Sports Medicine's brochure about selecting running shoes