After wearing barefoot shoes for over a month, I can confidently say it has been a positive experience. Despite the initial adjustment period and the soreness in my calves, I have found that the benefits outweigh any discomfort.
One of the main advantages I’ve noticed is a heightened sense of connection with the ground. With each step, I can feel the textures and contours beneath my feet, giving me a greater awareness of my surroundings. This has not only improved my balance but has also allowed me to appreciate the small details that often go unnoticed when wearing traditional shoes.
Additionally, I have already noticed improvements in my foot strength and flexibility. The minimalist design of barefoot shoes encourages the natural movement of my feet, strengthening the muscles and tendons over time. This has translated into better stability and reduced foot pain when engaging in physical activities.
I have noticed I ‘grip’ the floor more with my feet when squatting (which I have done in bare feet for some time now, anyhow.
As expected, the transition to barefoot shoes required patience and perseverance. It’s taking time for my feet and legs to adjust to the new way of walking, and I still experience occasional muscle soreness. However, with regular use, my body is adapting, and the discomfort has significantly diminished.
My choice of shoes
Before purchasing some shoes, I read everything on the internet and try to digest it.
Ultimately, I purchased two pairs – one ‘formal’ and one ‘casual’. The pairs I bought were the Geo Court III and the Primus Trail II FG – I figured this combination would give me the ability to experience a range of barefoot shoe styles – both at work and outdoors.
I also picked up some thermal insoles – I know I tend to get cold feet.
In terms of aesthetics, I appreciate the simplicity and minimalism of barefoot shoes. They have a sleek and understated look I like. Whether I’m wearing them to work or for something on the weekend, they effortlessly blend in while providing the benefits of barefoot footwear. I was a little worried they would stick out like clown shoes initially – but – surprisingly, they have only really been commented on by people who are already interested in barefoot shoes!
One concern I had about switching to these very light shoes was getting cold feet. So, I ordered some thermal inserts to help out. The Outlast Thermal Insole offers temperature-regulating technology, absorbing, storing and releasing heat. This smart thermal layer responds to accommodate the naturally changing temperatures of the feet.
In short, on cold days, where I have to spend a lot of time standing on cold concrete (I find if I am moving, my feet warm up) – these have made the difference between uncomfortable cold feet and simply not noticing the temp.
Posture and Feel
Since wearing my barefoot shoes, I have noticed a significant improvement in my overall posture. With the absence of cushioning and support in traditional shoes, I am forced to rely on my body’s natural alignment. This has led to better spinal alignment and a more upright daily posture.
This could just be me trying to attribute something here – but I also feel it’s starting to help what has been a lifetime of flat insteps causing an uneven gait. I have often noted that one foot turns out more than the other (right foot out more) when walking. This has been part of a more significant issue of ongoing hip issues and spine misalignment, ultimately resulting in shoulder impingements and a tight neck. It’s still too early to tell – but I feel these shoes may significantly help with a long-term posture issue I have had.
Another unexpected benefit of barefoot shoes is the increased mobility and freedom of movement they offer. The lightweight and flexible design allows my feet to move more naturally without any restrictions. I can easily bend, flex, and articulate my feet, which has improved my overall agility and range of motion.
I have found myself simply flexing and ‘playing’ with my feet more – stretching them out, wiggling my toes – just generally using and experiencing the feet.
I enjoy feeling the ground beneath my feet. The shoes provide me just enough protection to be able to comfortably walk over gravel without having to hop – but – I can feel every individual rock and stone under my feet. I tend to tread a little more carefully – which, in turn, actually makes me a little more sure of my footing.
When you switch to Barefoot Shoes, prepare for serious leg muscle action. It’s like a whole new world for your legs. At first, I noticed a good amount of muscle soreness, especially in the shins. If you’ve struggled with shin pain before, this could be a real game-changer because it’ll force those muscles to work like never before.
My calves, thighs, and quads were slightly more tired than usual. However, I took it as a good sign. It means those muscles are getting stronger and more conditioned. I didn’t feel pain, just tiredness.
This transition takes some time. Your body needs to adjust to the new footwear and movement style. Oh, and don’t forget that everyone’s experience is different. For me – I slightly increased the amount of Jiu-Jitsu training I was doing and backed off some of the heavy weights. So – I factored in those things as well.
The Toe Socks
I also picked up some Injinji toe socks. This was a tramping ‘set’ that included the inner liner and outer sock. The inner is a toe sock – each toe having its own section, and the outer is a wide, anatomically ‘correct’ sock. My partner HATES them. She has an almost physical reaction to them. But – I have enjoyed them, and much to her dismay, intend on continuing to wear them!
The set has given me three options – light socks when hot, a medium (the outer) for general use and a warmer set by wearing both. I had also forgotten how comfortable a liner/outer sock system can feel walking around in.
Some Unexpected Benefits
I have also noticed reduced foot odour since switching to barefoot shoes. The breathable materials and lack of cushioning help prevent excess moisture buildup, creating a healthier (less smelly) environment for my feet.
So, all in all – it’s a win! Despite a bit more fatigue – I have enjoyed the transition and fully intend to continue to wear barefoot-style shoes. I already have my eyes on a few more styles in the form of a boot – and a more back-country hiking shoe!
I am interested to see the longer-term effects on my posture and foot sensitivity – I might have also solved one of my longest-term physical conundrums somewhat accidentally!