Most of us have been around the block when it comes to shoes. But, a key question remains: have we been around that block … barefoot?
If you’ve never encountered the concept of “barefoot” style footwear or discovered the benefits of being barefoot, this might seem like a super strange question.
But we assure you: learning about your feet and how they were truly designed to move can be life-changing. We’re talking pain relief, posture correction, better form, and more.
Let’s get into this crucial concept.
The Amazing Benefits Of Being Barefoot
While it feels like modern shoes have been with us (humans) for a very long time, from an evolutionary standpoint, this really isn’t the case. Research has revealed that the first “shoes” were sandals worn by humans in Africa more than 40,000 years ago; however, these weren’t the sandals we know today. Ancient sandals were typically made of animal skins which were less about “support,” and more about gaining some protection from thorns and sharp pebbles. They were softer, flexible, and didn’t close in over the foot, which allowed for natural flexion of the toes and bend of the arch.
With modern shoes, we’ve done away with this “free” type of shoe and replaced it with a shoe that encloses our feet and forces them into less flexion. As we study more and more on how this has affected humanity, we’re discovering this has many detrimental effects, not only for our feet … but our entire body!
And on the flip side, getting back to going barefoot (or wearing shoes that mimic being barefoot) is revealing huge benefits every human deserves to know about.
1. Can Improve Balance And Posture
All of our muscles, even the tiniest ones in our toes, ultimately contribute to our overall balance and posture. When one or a group of muscles is weak, we typically see other muscles attempting to compensate (which can result in pulls or other injuries) or we see a lack of balance in our body. An example of this is when we slouch: too much slouching forward with our shoulders (say, for computer work) lengthens and weakens our back muscles while tightening our chest muscles, which then “pulls” us forward into a slouching position.
When we strengthen our back and shoulder muscles, however, this then pulls our chest and spine back and secures them into their correct position.
Now, with our feet, over-cushioning them in modern shoes allows their muscles to weaken … which leads to lack of overall support from our feet, ankle, and knee muscles. This can result in an improper gait and stride, which can ultimately lead to an injury simply from walking or running out of alignment.
2. May Protect Your Joints
When any of our muscles are weak, it can also spell trouble for our joints. Strong muscles help support and relieve pressure on our joints, while weak muscles leave our joints exposed to hard impacts and the weight of gravity. Ultimately, many joint pain problems may be relieved by improving overall posture through strengthening areas of weak muscles in our bodies.
When the muscles of our knees, ankles, and feet are weak from lack of movement and use, the joints in these areas take the brunt of the heavy impacts of walking, running, and jumping. Over time, this may cause joint pain from the constant rubbing and pounding on cartilage.
3. Can Make You More Resilient To Injury
Interestingly, there has been no evidence for the last (roughly) 60 years that modern footwear technologies help prevent injuries at all. These include technologies like “shock absorption” and “motion control.”
In fact, while these technologies may be trying to help by cushioning the foot even more, in reality, they seem to be creating weaker feet and ankles overall, which primes our bodies for injuries. As our foundation of movement, our feet, ankles, knees, and tendons were designed to be strong in order to support the correct movement of our bodies. Now, what happens to any muscle when it is under-used?
It grows weak.
If our foundation is weak, this increases our risk of stumbles, injuries like back and hip injuries due to poor posture, knees pain and injuries, and more. If these areas are strong, however, we can hold ourselves upright with more steadiness, strength, and mobility.
So, How Do We Go Barefoot In Our Modern World?
This is where we welcome you to the world of barefoot footwear! To be honest, switching to training and (basically living) in VivoBarefoot shoes has not only altered our performance for the better, but also given us peace of mind that we’re treating our bodies as nature intended.
There are many companies that offer footwear that mimic barefoot design, however, we love Vivo for their mission even outside of feet.
Vivobarefoot is a B Corporation™ Certified business for good. B corp™ are for-profit companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. You can see this in their “ReVivo” program which not only recycles their own footwear so they don’t end up in landfills, but also resells refurbished and repaired Vivo shoes.
Vivo’s slogan for ReVivo remains: “A landfill of our footwear will not be our legacy.”
Also, be sure to check out their documentary Shoespiracy for an even more in-depth dive into the history of shoes and the health of our feet.
Watch our VivoBarefoot Store Visit, where we chat with the awesome team about Vivo’s benefits and mission!