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6 Benefits of Barefoot Shoes

Nov 28, 2022 | Shoes

Contrary to popular belief, our feet don’t need as much support as the shoe and orthotic industries would lead us to believe.

The truth is that popular shoe brands, like Sketchers, Uggs, or Birkenstocks, actually destabilize the feet and may create problems in other parts of the body. This isn’t to say you have to throw away your favourite pair of shoes, but you may just want to wear them less and opt for more feet-friendly varieties like barefoot shoes.

At Posture & Wellness, we recommend barefoot or minimalist shoes to all of our clients. Now, there is a transition period where you’ll want to alternate between wearing your old shoes and barefoot shoes. The body needs time to adjust to build muscle and increase bone density. This means that you definitely don’t want to run in them right away or wear them 24-7.

Yet, once your body has adjusted to barefoot shoes, you might just notice some of your pain problems also disappear. So, I wanted to take a moment to explain this topic a little further. What are barefoot shoes exactly? What are their benefits?

What Are Barefoot Shoes?

Barefoot shoes are a type of minimalist footwear that doesn’t include a heel lift or elevation, arch support, or extensive cushioning. Instead, these shoes closely resemble walking or running around with bare feet, with slight protection, minimal cushion, a wide-set design, and a flexible sole.

The Benefits of Barefoot Shoes

Once you’ve taken some time to adjust, barefoot shoes come with countless benefits, including:

1. Increased Foot Strength & Balance

Taking away the soft cushion of the modern shoe allows your feet to build up proper strength and balance. We’ve even seen patients who once struggled with falls switch to barefoot shoes and never have issues with falls again. This is because barefoot shoes don’t add support where support isn’t needed. Instead, they allow your body and muscles to do what they do best while adding a tiny bit of cushion and protection.

2. Reduced Ankle and Knee Injuries

What is happening in the feet impacts your joints and structures higher up, including your ankles and knees. For example, if you have a low arch and you opt for shoes that support your arch, you might experience changes and problems in your knee and ankle joints that you didn’t have before.

Barefoot shoes won’t necessarily create more problems. Instead, they will support your body and its natural alignment, reducing injuries such as those in the knees and ankles.

3. Enhanced Brain-Body Connection

With modern footwear, we’ve become a bit desensitized to sensory input from our feet. Yet, with barefoot shoes, the brain actually receives increased sensory input, which can improve communication between these two areas. As a result, you can walk or run more naturally and make quicker decisions on your feet!

4. Improved Proprioception, Balance, and Posture

Proprioception refers to where your body is in space. Within your feet, you have various proprioception nerves that help you maintain good balance, movement coordination, and more.

When wearing barefoot shoes, your brain receives more accurate input from these nerves, leading to better balance, coordination, and posture.

5. Increased Breathing Room for Your Toes

In many shoes, the toes, unfortunately, get squeezed into a small space. This can lead to issues such as hammertoes or bunions. With barefoot shoes, the wider design gives more room for your toes to assume a more natural position, as well as improves the strength of the toes. In turn, this also contributes to better balance.

6. Reduced Pain

When the feet are naturally aligned, everything else in the body is also able to function better. This means less pain overall, including even a reduced risk of back pain. Everything in the body is connected, and when the feet are misaligned, this inevitably will impact joints and structures higher up. Yet, again, barefoot shoes do the opposite, giving way to a more natural alignment overall.

Our Recommended Barefoot and Minimalist Shoes

Below is a comprehensive list of barefoot shoes we recommend.

  • Bahé — A barefoot-style running shoe. (Men & Women)
  • Barebarics – Stylish Next-Gen barefoot sneakers, made with premium materials and a special flexible sole.
  • Be Lenka — Casual, everyday, perfect, minimal design, very ABC friendly. (Men, Women, & Kids)
  • Carets — Men’s work and smart dress shoes.
  • Earth Runners — Sandals, sporty, running, everyday, and casual shoes.  (Unisex & Kids)
  • Feelgrounds — Casual, everyday shoes. (Men & Women)
  • Feelmax — Sport, casual, everyday shoes. (Unisex & Kids)
  • Fleeters — Minimalist shoes – Handmade – Bio-based materials.(Unisex & Women)
  • Groundies — My personal favourite for stylish casual women’s shoes. Stylish, casual, lightweight, flexible, and sensitive walking experience. (Men & Women)
  • Joe Nimble — Casual, sporty, work, and everyday shoes. (Men & Women)
  • Lems — Casual, sporty, everyday, and active shoes. (Men & Women)
  • Magical Shoes — Casual, running, boots, sandals, and everyday shoes. (Men, Women, & Kids) (Polish Shop)
  • Origo — Sustainable, casual, and everyday shoes. (Men, Women, & Kids) (Polish Shop)
  • SKORA — High-performance, minimalist running shoes (Men & Women)
  • Softstar Shoes — casual, smart, everyday, running, and work shoes. (Men, Women, & Kids) (American shop)
  • Tadeevo — sporty, casual, everyday options. These have a very minimal design, which encourages true barefoot walking. (Men, Women, & Kids)
  • Tieks — A large range of female princess/flats shoes. These are casual, dressy, and everyday shoes. (American shop)
  • Tikki Shoes — women’s, children, boots and sandals, everyday, casual. (Men, Women, & Kids)
  • Tune Footwear — Men’s, casual, work, smart, and professional shoes. (American shop)
  • Unshoes — Sandals, sporty, casual, and everyday shoes. (Unisex & Kids) (American shop)
  • Vibram — Sporty, casual, and training shoes. (Men, Women, & Kids)
  • Vivo Barefoot — Excellent for sports and casual shoes. (Men, Women, & Kids)
  • Xero Shoes — A popular brand that has various casual styles, sandals, and sporty and everyday options. These are also ABC-friendly! (Men, Women, & Kids
  • Water Shoes — There are lots of shops that sell these, just Google search to find one! (A very inexpensive option)

There are also various other brands on the market that have minimal shoe options available:

  • Converse — The allstar range is flat, flexible and without arch support, making them a good everyday, casual, option.
  • Havaianas — Their flip flops are excellent, comfortable, and flat soled, without any arch supports.
  • Merrell — A range of minimal/barefoot options for sports, training and everyday wear.
  • New Balance — The minimus range is good for sports, everyday, and casual wear.
  • Roger Coco– Womens, causal, everyday, smart — look out for the flat sole options that don’t have a heel. (American store)
  • Skora Running — They have a good introductory minimal running/training shoe option. (American store)
  • Toms — This brand has flat, casual, stylish everyday options.
  • Vans – Similar to converse.

Safety Footwear:

  • If you need steel-capped shoes it can be a challenge to find a suitable pair of boots or shoes that are wide enough in the toes box and flexible enough to still allow your foot to move. One option that we’ve found which seems to tick all of the right boxes is SK Apparel. Look for the lee cooper safety plimsole.

Don’t be shy and ask one of our team members to check your shoes the next time you’re in!

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