A quick search online will get you a slew of barefoot shoes reviews mentioning the benefits of minimalist footwear. Those who have already experienced the gains while wearing barefoot shoes have become instant ambassadors of the barefoot footwear movement. Although most look at it as a fad or just hype, minimalist shoes have gained their own place under the sun. Are they really worth it?
What are barefoot shoes?
Barefoot shoes are kinds of footwear that allow the feet to move and function as if nothing is on. They don’t have all the extra features traditional shoes have but they do have a strong enough but still thin sole that protects the underfoot from the ground without sacrificing feedback.
Features of Barefoot Shoes
Read any good barefoot shoes reviews, and you’ll see that all barefoot shoes have common features. There are different kinds in the market, like barefoot shoes for work and casual occasions. There are even barefoot shoes for kids to use while at the beach or playground. But, all of these types will have the following features:
Traditional shoes have support features that alter the movement of our feet – a well-cushioned midsole, a padded tongue, a heel stabilizer, and so on. With barefoot shoes, there are no support features. The feet can move freely and naturally.
The drop of the shoe refers to the difference between the height and thickness of the midsole. Most shoes will have a 6mm drop but barefoot shoes, on the other hand, have zero drop. This means that they are completely flat.
The soles of barefoot shoes are thin to allow maximum ground feedback. The more a person feels the ground, the more his or her proprioception improves.
Wide Toe Box
All barefoot shoes have a wide toe box to allow the toes to splay naturally. Common shoes have a narrower toe box. Although the narrowness doesn’t pinch the toes, it still hinders them from spreading during movement.
Most barefoot shoes reviews mention flexibility as an important feature in minimal footwear. The shoes have to move together with the feet.
Why are barefoot shoes better?
Did you know that the foot is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments? Yes, it’s a complex structure with tiny parts working together to produce precise movements.
On average, we take about 10,000 steps per day, and with each step, our feet take on as much as 120% of our body weight. When running, it goes up to 275% which is a lot for our lower extremities to handle. Modern footwear aims to decrease the likelihood of injuries on our lower body while running but that’s not the case at all.
According to Dr. Emily Splichal, Podiatrist, as well as the CEO and Founder of Naboso Technology and the EBFA (Evidence Based Fitness Academy), she attributes most of the injuries she sees in her office to a “disconnect that is created between the body and the ground“. She associates these injuries to modern footwear.
This claim seems to have been confirmed by a study done by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) where the results stated that 77% of Americans still experience foot pain despite all the bells and whistles modern footwear has been designed to have. So, what seems to be the problem? It’s highly likely that most of today’s shoes are overdesigned.
Barefoot Shoes Benefits & How They Work
Historically, shoes were created to protect the feet from elements that are damaging. But, as time moved forward, protection has become a lesser priority compared to fashion and style.
Since barefoot shoes don’t have a lot of “extras” the feet can just move as how it was designed to. They have been stripped down of the unnecessary features and have been designed to go back to the basics so they can:
- Improve proprioception and balance
- Improve foot mechanics which can also result in better mechanics of body parts involved in moving
- Strengthen foot and leg muscles
- Enhance foot control
Where to Find Barefoot Shoes Online
There are so many reliable barefoot shoes reviews online that tell you what and where to get barefoot shoes. A good website that you might consider checking is Happy Barefoot, which helps consumers make the best choice when it comes to minimalist footwear.
If you’re still unsure of which barefoot shoe to choose, which can be the case for most beginners, you can make use of the shoe finder wizard. After you get your result, the next step is for you to check and compare the price of the pair you would like to check out.