The Way We Move – Barefoot Shoes and Earthing
Our human feet are unique among mammals and an evolutionary masterpiece but sadly we often don’t treat them as such. Our feet carry us from A to B since our first steps as a baby usually until our last days. Shouldn’t we give them the perfect support and everything they need to work harmoniously for this whole period? Barefoot shoes can be the answer by combining our natural needs with the lifestyle of modern times.
Our Journey with Barefoot Shoes
A few years after getting our first pair of barefoot shoes, we started wearing exclusively barefoot or minimal shoes which has been over 5 years now. In the beginning I was a bit sceptical because some of my friends which are very active runners were not really into this “new” movement. Especially the look of barefoot shoes was pretty unusual because of their wide toe box design. So I wasn’t wearing them for quite a long time, until I decided to dive into some more research. After giving them another chance for running and as well as daily usage I fell in love with my barefoot shoes. Now, I wouldn’t want to go back to conventional shoes ever again.
So in 2015 we bought our vivobarefoot trail running shoes and before we started our travel journey we also got their vegan sandals. With just these two pairs in our backpack we did hundreds of kilometres of running, hiking, trekking, canyoning, swimming, cliff jumping. All with just some minor signs of usage which we were able to get repaired everywhere in the world. So now after all that time I just want to share with you some information about barefoot shoes which might inspire you to try them yourself.
The Walking Evolution
Our feet are the main connection to Mother Earth (Gaia) and they are naturally designed to withstand the loads of running and walking with their super mobile adaptation and spring quality. We have been barefoot for the majority of times in our evolution, until 40.000 years ago. At that point early humans started using organic, usually flexible materials for protection from damaging elements on the ground. This approach was then completely misused by modern day humans when they began to design shoes for specific purposes other than protection. This included as new designs for fashion as well as different cultural norms for men and women. From horse riding in the west to extremely narrow shoes for fashion in the East.
Most shoes nowadays are heavy and rigid – they press your feet in an uncomfortable or unnatural way and completely detach you from nature and the terrain you are walking or running on. With such an isolation our feet don’t get the chance to use their natural functionality anymore.
The Running Movement
Especially since the 1970 where running was introduced as a sport a new design of shoe was created with very little support. After a few years the industry and doctors were adding cushions to several parts of the shoes. This way, they wanted to remove the challenges of the generally untrained public that started running without proper instructions.
Fast forward to our current times – a lot of nowadays injuries are thought to be related to the disconnection of the body from the ground. The conventional cushioned shoe structures are allowing your whole feet to relax. As a consequence, the muscles get soft and deactivated which eliminates almost all natural movements. Additionally when the vast sensory information you get from natural barefoot walking or running are inhibited over a long period people tend to get problems with their stability and balance.
So we are now buying specialised shoes to alleviate the problem which was created by shoes in the first place. You can just take a look at MMA or other martial arts fighters, gymnastics, ballerinas, indigenous tribes and more – they rely on such feedbacks for pursuing their athletic goals.
Back to the Earth
With all the gadgets we are now living with, there exists another vital perspective of the barefoot lifestyle. Nowadays our bodies are constantly exposed to electromagnetic frequencies and smog. The ability of grounding or earthing ourselves with our feet is almost impossible with our conventional shoes. When you connect your bare feet to the ground this EMF can be removed to the earth and relieves tension and imbalance. Therefore some companies like Earth Runners have specially designed barefoot shoes that connect you to the earth and naturally ground you while wearing them. They also have a smart little tool to add this grounding feature to any of your current shoes.
Barefoot Shoes are fun
After all the reasons why you should probably stop wearing conventional shoes, here starts the fun part. It’s great to experience the world with your feet – all the different surfaces, climates, and activities. Take off your shoes and feel the ground beneath you, have fun with the experience of wearing barefoot shoes or no shoes at all. Barefoot shoes can look great and definitely don’t miss out in their style compared to ‘normal’ shoes. Enjoy the transition period and all the achievements and freedom you will have day after day. If you need some more science to get you motivated, check out these snippets of research by Vivobarefoot or do your own search online to dive deeper.
With all this said, one question remains – “How do I start?”
I would suggest to buy a pair of barefoot shoes which can be used for everyday use as well as gentle running. At first, try not to wear any shoes at home (which adds up to a lot of hours). Simultaneously start using the barefoot shoes additionally to your normal shoes. After some days, depending on how long you walk each day, begin using them exclusively. There are also great videos and articles with some exercises to help with the transition to the barefoot lifestyle.
As soon as you feel comfortable in your new shoes start gentle jogging for 5 minutes and see how your body reacts. You will most likely feel some soreness in your calves which is a good sign – your muscles are adapting to your new way of moving. After a bit of recovery time, include more short runs and slowly increase the duration while observing any muscle soreness. The time will fly by and soon you will be able to run your normal times and routes. On top of that, you will feel your feet getting stronger week by week.
Barefoot Shoes – Sources & Recommendations
Here are a few recommendations where you can get more information on how to run and walk with barefoot shoes. And of course if you have any questions just drop us a message.
Be gentle and remind yourself that you will need some time to build up strength, endurance and technique. Barefoot living is a perfect tool to connect you to nature, calm your mind and improve your health.
Enjoy your day,