Kick Off The Shoes! Why Going Barefoot Can Be So Beneficial
This is a guest blog by Mr William Wilson on the effects and possibly benefits of barefoot shoes.
We all learned to walk Barefoot. None of us were born wearing a snazzy pair of Nike trainers or a colourful pair of crocs. Just as soon as we won the battle against gravity attaining an upright balance, for the act of walking/toddling, we quickly progressed to wearing pretty ribboned boots that always achieved a cuteness ‘aaah’ from gran parents. Growing into teenagers and young adults it was the coolness ‘awes’ from friends that mattered as fashion dictated our choice of footwear. Being young many of us put style before comfort and practicality.
Unlike many activities that are generally practised barefoot such as yoga, gymnastics and martial arts, walkers and more so runners, have had shoe designs and aids galore thrust upon them. From expensive insoles that mould to the shape of your foot to specialist footwear claiming to correct the myriad problems we are being told we suffer from or will suffer from as a result of poor walking/running gaits. There’s a bunch of conditions – many with Latin sounding names, some sounding utterly painful – ailments just waiting patiently for those who dare walk or run in old or non-corrective footwear offerings.
There’s some research that suggests that some over-elaborate corrective footwear can effect a knock-on effect, resulting in gait related injuries, as our natural biomechanics are altered by the footwear. This seems to make sense as most running shoes are so well cushioned and ‘corrective’ that the wearer no longer walks anything like how they learned to as a child. No wonder so many runners have problems with their feet, shins, knees, hips etc. Granted, some will benefit if they have a genuine gait issues or a foot problem that needs correction, but I do believe many corrective training shoes are changing a runner’s natural gait to suit the design of the shoe rather than complimenting a runner’s natural running/walking style. At best, the corrective nature of some footwear can for many serve merely as an advertising gimmick and worst case, they can be the cause of some debilitating injuries.
If we analysed our walk/run gait closely the findings would show that we are all unique. Our individual gait differs just like our DNA or fingerprints. Expecting to purchase a pair of trainers that complements our individual running/walking style to such a degree is almost like expecting to buy false teeth off the shelf in a supermarket and, expecting a perfect fit. Buying anything other than bespoke dentures would, I’m sure, lead to painful mouth problems; perhaps some may manage for a while only to suffer at a later date owing to their natural chewing/eating action being altered and disturbed.
The less than humble trainer is constantly evolving and has been through a spectrum of change. I remember fondly my first pair of Nike air max after I’d worn out my Hi Tec Silver Shadows, during the 80s – back in the day these shoes could command a degree of appreciation from those in the know!
Ironically, many people are finding barefoot running suits them better and in some cases corrects their running/walking style back to how they first learned to put one foot in front of the other (barefoot). Yes. They are even called barefoot running shoes!
In my next blog I will be suggesting a few tips on how to adjust to walking or running barefoot, if this is something you would like to try. Slowly and gently – so many people have picked up preventable injuries from diving straight into barefoot style running. Years of wearing even the most basic trainers will require some ‘unlearning’ where your feet and gait are concerned. I will also include a few exercises to help strengthen certain muscles that can help prevent or relieve shin-splints as well building or strengthening fallen arches.
Barefoot running info: