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Let's Talk About Shoes...



When it comes to footwear, many of us prioritize style and convenience over the health of our feet. However, the shoes we wear can significantly impact our overall well-being. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of barefoot shoes, natural footwear, and why our choices matter more than we might think.


The Benefits of Barefoot Shoes and Going Barefoot


A Natural Connection

Barefoot shoes and going barefoot allow your feet to function as nature intended. Our ancestors walked barefoot, connecting directly with the earth, which provided numerous benefits:

  • Improved Foot Strength: Without the crutch of supportive shoes, the muscles in your feet work harder, becoming stronger and more resilient.

  • Enhanced Proprioception: Direct contact with the ground improves balance and awareness of your body in space.

  • Natural Gait: Barefoot walking encourages a more natural stride, reducing the risk of injury.


Grounding with the Earth

Grounding, or earthing, involves direct skin contact with the earth, which is believed to have various health benefits:

  • Reduced Inflammation: Grounding can neutralize free radicals, leading to reduced inflammation.

  • Better Sleep: Some studies suggest that grounding can improve sleep quality by normalizing circadian rhythms.

  • Enhanced Mood: Contact with the earth’s electrons is thought to elevate mood and reduce stress.


The Benefits of a Wide Toe Box


Traditional shoes often squeeze our toes together, leading to discomfort and deformities such as bunions. A wide toe box, found in barefoot shoes, allows toes to splay naturally:

  • Improved Stability: Splayed toes provide a better base of support, enhancing balance.

  • Natural Alignment: Proper toe alignment reduces strain on the entire foot and lower leg.

  • Prevention of Foot Issues: A wide toe box helps prevent common foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions.


Five-Finger Style Shoes and Zero Drop Footwear


Five-Finger Shoes

Five-finger shoes mimic the natural shape of your foot, providing individual toe pockets:

  • Enhanced Flexibility: These shoes allow each toe to move independently, promoting natural foot mechanics.

  • Strengthened Muscles: Encouraging natural toe movement strengthens the intrinsic muscles of the foot.


Zero Drop Shoes

Zero drop shoes have no height difference between the heel and the forefoot, promoting a more natural stance:

  • Balanced Posture: By maintaining a flat platform, zero drop shoes encourage proper alignment from the feet up through the spine.

  • Natural Gait: Zero drop footwear promotes a midfoot or forefoot strike, reducing the impact on joints.


Natural Leather Soled Shoes and Grounding Plugs


Moccasins and Leather Soled Shoes

Moccasins and other shoes with natural leather soles provide flexibility and ground feel:

  • Foot Conformity: Leather molds to the shape of your foot, providing a custom fit.

  • Sensory Feedback: Thin leather soles allow better ground sensation, enhancing proprioception.


Grounding Plugs

Shoes with grounding plugs offer the benefits of earthing while providing protection:

  • Health Benefits: Grounding plugs allow for the transfer of electrons from the earth, offering the same benefits as walking barefoot on natural surfaces.


The Downside of Flip Flops


While convenient, flip flops can be detrimental to foot health:

  • Altered Gait: The need to grip flip flops with your toes can cause unnatural walking patterns and strain.


The Advantages of Huarache Style Shoes


Inspired by the Tarahumara runners, huarache sandals are excellent for walking and running:

  • Natural Flexibility: Their minimalist design promotes a natural stride.

  • Lightweight: Less weight means less fatigue over long distances.

  • Durability: Simple construction often means longer-lasting footwear.


Foot Development in Children


Choosing the right shoes for children is crucial for healthy foot development:

  • Flexible Soles: Children’s shoes should allow for natural foot movement.

  • Minimalist Design: Avoiding rigid, supportive shoes encourages muscle development and proper foot mechanics.


The Problems with Arch Support and Elevated Heels


Arch Support

While it might seem beneficial, arch support can weaken the foot’s natural structure:

  • Muscle Atrophy: Constant support can lead to weaker foot muscles.

  • Dependency: The foot becomes reliant on the support, leading to further weakness.


Elevated Heels

High heels, even in running shoes, can negatively impact your body:

  • Postural Issues: Elevated heels tilt the pelvis forward, leading to poor posture and back pain.

  • Altered Gait: Heels promote a heel strike, increasing the impact on joints and encouraging inefficient running form.


The Impact of Supportive Shoes on Feet and Joints


Weakening Effect

Supportive shoes can make your feet weaker over time:

  • Reduced Muscle Engagement: Over-reliance on support diminishes muscle activity.

  • Increased Injury Risk: Weaker muscles and altered mechanics can lead to injuries.


Jarring Heel Strike

Traditional running shoes often promote a heel strike, which is less efficient and more harmful:

  • High Impact: Heel striking increases the shock transmitted through the joints.

  • Inefficient Form: Proper running form, with a midfoot or forefoot strike, results in smoother motion and less head movement.


In conclusion, embracing barefoot shoes, zero drop footwear, and other natural alternatives can lead to healthier, stronger feet and improved overall well-being. By understanding the impact of our shoe choices, we can make informed decisions that support not just our feet but our entire bodies. Let’s step into a world where our footwear enhances, rather than hinders, our natural potential.


We love talking natural footwear at Results Plus Fitness and believe barefoot shoes are the foundation of a good workout! If you have any questions or want to learn more, please contact us or stop by our in-house Pro Shop to find your next favorite pair of shoes. Your feet will be glad you did!

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