Barefoot footwear might sound strange as a term, but there’s solid logic behind it: let’s face it, your feet were made to work without shoes. Chances are, however, that the soles of your feet, or your mind, are not ready to go barefoot. Barefoot footwear allows your feet to work in a natural fashion, while offering your soles protection from sharp objects and abrasive surfaces. As you use your barefoot shoes over time your feet, legs and posture will move towards their natural states.
With most modern footwear your heels are higher than the front of your foot. With barefoot footwear this factor is balanced to a natural stance, allowing your lower legs to work as nature intended.
For millions of years, nature has seen homo sapiens as a barefoot species, which makes sense. It’s only during the past couple of centuries that artificial footwear has been allowed to mess with this balance. Especially the running shoe boom of the 80’s and 90’s brought all kinds of artificial shock absorption and support in the picture, allowing for an unnatural jogging gait, based on a heel-first step even when taking running steps. Most of us, however, have the balls of our feet as well as our toes intact, and those are the crucial elements of a natural running gait. The correct use of barefoot footwear allows you to strengthen your muscles and neural connections and develop towards a more natural gait, taking advantage of your built-in shock absorption system!
It’s a good idea to begin barefoot training gradually, bit by bit. Look at it like any other form of excercise: give your muscles and tendons time to recover and with each excercise concentrate on what you’re doing: make sure you’re receiving the shocks with the ball of your foot and make good use of your toes when pushing forward. You’ll be sure to feel a new kind of stimulus in your calves and feet!