Barefoot shoes - what to consider before buying them

How did the barefoot movement become popular?

In recent years, barefoot shoes have gained huge popularity. How did it start?

The barefoot movement in the modern sense began with "barefoot running" or "natural running", but it is not a recent phenomenon. The modern resurgence of the barefoot movement, especially in the Western world, is an exciting mix of ancient traditions, scientific research and athletic experimentation. Let's dive into how the barefoot movement started and gained popularity:

A modern trend?

Long before the advent of cushioned soles and modern shoe technology, our ancestors ran, hunted and walked barefoot or in very minimalist shoes for thousands of years. In many indigenous cultures around the world, barefoot running was not a trend, but a way of life.

Observations of the 20th century

The Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, known for their long-distance running abilities, often ran in thin-soled sandals called "huaraches." Runners of the Tahamura tribe became widely known in the second half of the 20th century, when researchers and writers highlighted their incredible nutrition.


21st century revival and scientific research

In the early 2000s, research began to emerge showing that running barefoot can reduce the risk of injury compared to running in modern, cushioned shoes. One major study published in Nature in 2010 by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, showed that running barefoot tends to land on the forefoot or midfoot, potentially reducing impact-related injuries.

"Born to Run" - born to run.

In 2009, Christopher McDougall's book "Born to Run" became a bestseller. The book delved into the world of ultramarathon running and the barefoot running tradition of the Tarahumara tribe. It brought a lot of attention to the benefits and joy of barefoot running. Following this renewed interest, many shoe companies began producing minimalist or barefoot shoes. The shoe was created to mimic the feeling of being barefoot as much as possible, with a wide toe box to allow natural foot expansion, zero heel-to-toe drop, and minimal cushioning.


Warnings and Criticisms

Although many supported the barefoot movement, it was also criticized. Some people have injured themselves by switching too quickly from traditional running to barefoot running. This is due to the fact that the transition from normal to barefoot shoes happened too quickly and due to the influence of wearing modern shoes, most people have not strengthened the relevant muscles. Let's talk about it in more detail.


The benefits of going barefoot (even with shoes!)

1. Natural foot movement

Barefoot shoes are designed to mimic the natural shape and function of the human foot. They provide a full range of motion, especially in the toes, which promotes a natural gait and reduces excessive load on the joints.

2. Improved proprioception

With a thin sole and direct contact with the ground, barefoot shoes improve proprioception - our body's ability to sense its position in space. This heightened awareness is vital for balance, agility and overall body coordination.

3. Strengthens the foot muscles

By allowing the foot to move naturally, barefoot shoes can help strengthen the foot muscles. Over time, this can reduce the risk of foot-related diseases.

4. Promotes better posture

Traditional shoes often have raised heels, which can alter our posture. By keeping the foot flat on the ground, barefoot shoes promote a more upright posture, potentially reducing stress on the spine.

5. Environmentally friendly design

Brands like Vivobarefoot often prioritize sustainable materials and processes, making them a great choice for the eco-conscious consumer.

However, every rose has its thorn...
Although barefoot shoes offer many benefits, they are not necessarily the ideal choice for everyone in every situation. Here are some aspects that should be considered before buying barefoot shoes.

When to watch out

1. Transition period

If you are transitioning from traditional shoes to bare feet, do so gradually. Your feet will need time to adjust to new movement patterns and sudden changes can cause strain, pain and injury.

2. Diabetic neuropathy

Individuals with diabetic neuropathy, which causes loss of sensation in the feet, should be cautious. Barefoot shoes may not provide the necessary protection against undetected injuries.

3. Structural foot problems

If you have serious foot structural problems, such as severe bunions or hammertoes, consult a podiatrist before switching.

4. Uneven terrain

Although barefoot shoes are designed for a variety of surfaces, they may not provide adequate protection in very rough terrain, especially rocky terrain or on sharp rocks.

5. Certain occupational hazards

Jobs that require additional foot protection, such as construction or factory work, may require more durable footwear to protect against specific hazards such as falling objects.

In conclusion
Barefoot shoes, including brands like Vivobarefoot, offer a refreshing return to basics, emphasizing natural foot mechanics and movement. However, as with any shoe choice, it is important to consider individual needs and circumstances. As always, when in doubt, consult a podiatrist to determine the best shoes for your unique feet.

Be careful and follow the path that feels right for you!

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