We get asked many questions about shoes, so we are going to attempt to answer the most common queries below.
What are they?
They are shoes with very little cushioning or insoles. They cover the basic premise of insulating and protecting your feet, whilst not interfering with the body mechanics too much.
Why would I wear them?
They offer the basic protection for the sole of the foot, but allow your foot and the 33 joints in the foot to move and glide as necessary, whilst also using the intrinsic muscles of the foot to get some exercise (normal shoes give a lot of support to these muscles so they are usually weak). There are also good studies showing that the brain gets a lot more stimulation and proprioception when a person is barefoot.
When would you wear a barefoot shoe?
Well in our opinion, you would use these shoes on a day to day basis. This allows your foot to wake up and rehabilitate, your muscles, bones and joints to get stronger and for neural pathways to develop. The only time we don’t wear a minimal or barefoot shoe is when we need a dress shoe for weddings etc.
Should children wear barefoot shoes?
We would say it is quite important for children to spend as much time barefoot as possible as they will be getting a lot of information from the receptors in the joints of the foot, which helps with position sense. This allows the child to know where they are in space without just relying on their eyes. This will certainly be helpful in creating good movement patterns.
Do I need to tweak barefoot shoes to make them fit me better?
In our experience, most people benefit with a heel lift or chip as these give the body a bit more leverage, pop the chest and bum out and balance the body better. Usually a dot on your breakdown side is also very helpful; please speak to your ABC practitioner to help you with this. Also, coming to our sitting, standing and sleeping (SSS) class will greatly improve your ability to get this right.
Who do we recommend?
Vivo barefoot do a good range of shoes and we also have a discount code, so if you are a practice member please ask for it. There are others out there, but I have not tested them yet.
Can I use them for running?
Stuart Murray has done a marathon in barefoot shoes, so yes, you can. The caveat to this is you can’t transition from a normal to a modern running shoe to a barefoot running shoe quickly. You would need to let the physiology of the foot to catch up to the new patterns being utilized. We would recommend wearing a barefoot shoe as an every day shoe and after about 3-6 months start running in them for short distances initially. The shoe uses very different muscle groups than you are probably used too. It’s best to speak to your ABC practitioner about this.
Does it help me unwind at all?
Most shoes that are worn, will put more mechanical stress into the body, for which you will have to create compensation patterns. This slows down the process of unwinding. Minimal/barefoot shoes, particularly the ones that have been tweaked, don’t do this, so allow your body to unwind faster.
We hope this was helpful, if you have anymore questions, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org