Have you heard about the ‘bare foot movement’? I know I had many years before I actually dipped my toe (mostly by accident) into actually practicing this on a daily basis. I do love how everything eventually goes back to basics!
We mostly wear shoes to protect our feet, but there is a lot of information that now supports going bare foot or having minimal foot wear. Why? Because when we wear shoes that alter the shape of our feet this alters the our ‘gait’… the way we walk. When we alter the way we walk, we start using different muscles, not using the correct muscles, which can lead to muscle & posture imbalances.
Now shoes that ‘alter the shape of our feet’ can really be anything for high tech sports shoes to narrow stilettos! The ideal shoe is really one that allows your foot to take its natural shape, protects your foot (from glass/rocks etc) and generally has a wider area around your toes so that they can stay spread and function properly.
So why did I finally decide to wear less or minimal footwear? Well it honestly started with moving to Cairns. Yes, it is really hot up here and just looking at a pair of sneakers I break into a sweat! This also coincided with becoming pregnant for the first time.. so since then my fancy shoes have barely had any use anyway. Yip even in the tropics with green ants and weird creepy crawlies, I am a big bare foot fan!
Will you get more back or hip problems? No because it helps to start bring your muscles back into balance and engage all the right muscle the require you to walk naturally. Did you know some of the foot wear we wear, basically means our little toes are completely superfluous (imagine if evolution takes over and our toes fuse together or we only have 4 toes lol!).
What about when you exercise? Many of you may know that I teach almost all my classes bare foot. In fact, it is recommended in the Kangatraining program for a couple of reasons including, helping you step more light when babywearing so there is less impact on your and your babies bodies.
How should I start? Start gradually. If you go straight to barefoot/minimal foot wear cold turkey, you will probably find that you do have an achy body? Why? Because you are using lots of small muscles that you haven’t used in a long time. All those small muscles tire very quickly and you may be begging for your shoes again. So just start with wearing your shoes less for short periods of time across your day.
If you are Pre/Postnatal and currently dealing with some hip stability issues (very common due to the all the relaxin hormone in our bodies), then it is also good practice to keep your footwear on during this time to support your hips. You can could still look at some alternative foot wear that allows your foot to be in a more natural position.
What about the kids? Bare feet all the way! Kids are already really clumsy while learning to explore & use their bodies. Putting them in thick soled shoes really throws out their gait and can make them more likely to fall over (saw this so many times with my eldest). There are times when foot wear is required (hot ground or broken glass etc), so opt for a super light weight minimal shoe. My faves are some little Nike sandles & vivo barefoot shoes (in no way sponsored by these companies – we just love them). Even just those fabric only shoes is often enough.
I even noticed in our Kindy Handbook that barefoot is recommended and no problem turning up bare foot for kindy.
So you really want or need shoes? My husband loves Vibram shoes (not sponsored). They are literally like a glove and individually wrap around each toe. He wears these mostly for running to protect his feet. Admittedly they do look pretty funny and hubby always feels like he needs to run really fast when he is wearing these (people always turn their head to see what on earth he has on his feet lol). I’m not as big a fan as it feels like you have mud between your toes, so I prefer just a wide toed shoe that allows your foot to spread.
You may notice I am no fashion trend setter, but there are lots of good options if you like a stylish look too – so get googling or go naked 😉
So give it a go and please let me know what your body thinks too
Founder of Nurtured Fitness
Pre/Postnatal Fitness Expert