Barefoot running is healthy. We've probably all heard that before. But walking barefoot in shoes? Actually impossible. Much more, the running style, the gait without shoes as close as possible to promote a naturally healthy foot health. But are the shoes really healthy and for whom they can even be dangerous?
The health concept of the barefoot shoe
Our walking style changes enormously when we put on shoes. On the one hand, this is due to the enormous distance from the ground caused by the sole of the shoe. On the other hand, shoes constrict our foot, especially our toes. Thus, the shoe takes over the stabilizing function of our toes and the feet become inflexible. Barefoot shoes strive to create as natural a gait as possible. With relatively flexible materials and thin soles, our walking style should be as close as possible to that of a barefoot runner. This is because our comfortable footwear makes our feet lazy: Blood circulation is reduced, flexibility decreases and our numerous nerves on the sole of the foot are hardly irritated. The intensive contact with the ground while running, on the other hand, stimulates the nerves and blood circulation is promoted.
Actually healthy? The advantages for your feet
But do barefoot shoes really offer health benefits? Yes! Especially those who put a lot of stress on their feet, for example through regular jogging, can benefit from the minimal footwear. In addition, more and more models for everyday use are coming onto the market. If your feet hurt quickly or you simply want a more conscious running style, the kicks can also offer your feet beneficial support in everyday life.
These aspects might interest you:
Barefoot shoes protect your joints
According to a study by the evolutionary biologist Daniel Liebermann, our commercial shoes are the cause of many orthopedic complaints. To support this thesis, he started a study with 73 runners, among which some were trained barefoot runners and others ran with modern running shoes.
The comparison of the two groups showed that, contrary to previous assumptions, cushioned running shoes put a lot of stress on the ankles. The trained barefoot runners, on the other hand, put significantly less strain on their musculoskeletal system.
Blood circulation promoted
The perceptible ground contact of the sole of the foot and the freedom of movement in barefoot shoes also ensures better blood circulation in your feet and legs.
Minimal shoes promote the running style
Direct contact with the ground also causes nerves and muscles to communicate better with each other. Furthermore, your sense of balance is enhanced and your foot rolls naturally. This results in a healthy running style and orthopedic complaints can be prevented.
The risk of injury while running is lower
The flat sole also reduces the risk of twisting and injuring tendons and joints.
Barefoot shoes can strengthen the foot muscles
Furthermore, the German Sports School in Cologne was able to prove in their study that barefoot shoes can strengthen the muscles. The runners trained for this experiment with the Nike Frees and achieved up to 20 percent strengthening of their foot muscles.
The shoes protect your foot from sharp objects
Of course, you would also achieve all these results if you ran barefoot right away. But shoes have their raison d'être: to protect your feet from cold, wet and injurious objects. Barefoot shoes combine these features. Your feet are protected and freedom of movement is not restricted.
You walk more consciously in minimal shoes
The thin sole ensures that you feel bumps, such as small stones or branches, intensively. Just to avoid painful stimuli, you will walk more consciously through the world. The mindfulness in turn, can benefit your mental health, give you inner peace and relaxation.
Exceptions confirm the rule
For most people, barefoot shoes are very healthy, but not everyone gets along with them, and in some cases, they can even be dangerous.
Therefore, barefoot shoes may not be suitable for you:
You do not like the look
While the usual shoe shapes narrow towards the front, barefoot shoes feature a wide toe box or even individual toe boxes. The look can seem unfamiliar and doesn't please everyone equally.
The change is difficult for you
At the beginning, the nerves, tendons and muscles have to get used to the higher strain, which is why wearing barefoot shoes can feel a little uncomfortable at first. In addition, the change should be made gently. A rapid changeover with high loads carries the risk of injury. For athletic purposes, a changeover period of 9 months is therefore recommended.
There are health restrictions
For diabetics and those affected by other nerve damage, barefoot shoes can be dangerous. Here, good cushioning to protect the nerves is a priority. You should also consult with an orthopedist about the use of barefoot shoes if you have deformities, especially if insoles are needed. The lack of a footbed can cause pain and promote orthopedic discomfort in some deformities.
Basically, barefoot shoes bring many health benefits. If you go jogging every day, for example, you can prevent orthopedic complaints, blood circulation is promoted and the nerves are stimulated. However, barefoot shoes are not ideal for everyone. For example, some people simply do not like the shape of the shoe. In the case of nerve damage and malpositions, the shoes can even be harmful to health. Also, the change can feel a little uncomfortable, but after a period of acclimation, the flexible soles can give you a whole new walking experience.