Your feet, which evolved over millions of years or were designed by God – take your pick, were not ‘designed’ to wear shoes, period. You distort your feet and gait when you wear ‘modern’ shoes with an inflexible sole, heel, and tight toebox. This distortion, in turn, will distort everything above it, like your ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck, leading to flat feet, weak lower legs, poor balance, and ankle, knee, hip, back, and neck pain. Modern shoes also reduce the amount of information going to your brain, possibly helping accelerate brain degeneration and conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
While walking around barefoot may be possible some of the time, most of the time, we will need some foot covering both for practical and social reasons. So what to do? Enter the ‘barefoot’ or ‘minimal’ shoe. Now I know what you are thinking, “No! Not those foot-glove-looking things!”
Yes, this ‘trend’ started with the horrendous-looking Vibram five-finger variety that looked like a ‘glove’ for your feet. While perhaps the best shoe for your feet in terms of health, they were too much of a stretch for most people, most of the time relegating them to people’s outdoor runs. While this may help one avoid the typical injuries runners experience from wearing modern shoes while running, they do not aid us who don’t run and who have to wear shoes most of the day.
The good news is that ‘barefoot’ and ‘minimal shoes’ have been gaining traction in the marketplace, and as they have, just about every kind of shoe is now being made ‘barefoot’ style. And, as the video above mentions, these once-niche products have been coming down in price as their popularity spreads. I have just about every shoe represented in the barefoot style, from Chelsea boots, sneakers, and dress shoes, to sandals.
As the video mentions, if you plan to make the switch, do so gradually. It will take time for your body to strengthen and adapt to the new hermetic (good) stress you are putting on your feet and lower legs. Once your body adapts, you may find that your balance in yoga class improves, the pain in your back goes away, and your headaches may even disappear.
-Douglas Johnson E-RYT 500, YACEP, OM, CKIF