I have decided to share this post from Xeroshoes as I find it very well put.
Let’s start with a horrible image: You broke your arm and it has been in a cast for 2 months. The doctors take the cast off. How does your arm look?
Not good, right?
Shriveled. Weak. You can’t move it very well. Now think about most shoes, with their “supportive” soles, stiff midsoles, and padded heels.
Kind of like a cast, right? They limit your movement, eliminate sensation. Some people even add rigid orthotics (we’ll talk about those – and the controversy about them – in a couple of days).
What do you think happens to your feet when you keep them bound up like this, not for months like your arm in a cast, but for YEARS?
Doesn’t it seem likely that your foot would get weaker and less functional, like your arm does after it has been in a cast?
And when it gets weaker, if you’re like most people, or if you go to most doctors, that’s when you’ll look for a shoe with even MORE “support”… which can make your foot weaker… so you look for… well, you get it, right?
Dr. Michael Merzenich, who is featured in the book The Brain That Changes Itself, thinks that older people have balance problems NOT because of something wrong with their inner ear, but because years of wearing shoes has effectively told their brains, “No need to pay attention to those feet.” And studies have shown that stimulating the feet can help elderly people regain their balance.
Let’s pick a more pleasant image now – walking barefoot on your favorite surface. It could be the beach, or in a grassy park, or on a trail in the Fall when leaves create a blanket over the path.
Not only can you feel the wonderful surfaces under your feet, but you feel the sun on top of them, and you can stretch and wiggle your toes without anything getting in the way.
And when your feet can breathe, guess what they don’t do… SMELL!
I don’t need to ask which image – cast or freedom – you like better, do I? ;-)
Just writing this made me remember the times I’d be in a park, watching kids run around barefoot, laughing, playing (I’ve never seen one complain of tight calves or plantar fasciitis, by the way)… and then throw tantrums when their parents tried to force them back into shoes when it was time to leave.
Look, this isn’t rocket science.
Humans have been living barefoot – or near barefoot – for a LONG time. Our feet are meant to feel the world.
The most nerve endings we have are in our mouths, our hands, and our feet… and only one of those three do we cover up and overprotect.
The bottom line is: Barfeoot is fun. It’s natural. And it might be able to improve your physical and mental health (more about both of those in upcoming lessons).
That said, barefoot isn’t always appropriate. There are times and places where being barefoot might not be allowed, or could even be dangerous.
They won’t let you into most restaurants barefoot. You wouldn’t want to walk on your white carpeting after a day out barefoot. And don’t get me started on the idea of barefoot-ness in a football stadium bathroom!
It’s because of the benefits and occasional challenges of being barefoot that we developed Xero Shoes. With the help of the former lead designers from Nike and Reebok, we built our sandals to give you all the fun and benefits of being barefoot – letting you feel the world and have complete natural movement – but with the protection you sometimes want.
Plus they fit perfectly, they can be customized to express your personality, they’re affordable, and true to our tire-sandal inspiration, they have a 5,000 mile warranty.
So far we’ve helped almost 30,000 people enjoy being “Barefoot… PLUS!” People ages 1-91 in 87 countries who use Xero Shoes for eveything from walking, to hiking, yoga, the gym, jogging, even 100-mile ultramarathons.
What are your top reasons for wanting to explore natural movement or barefoot living? Post them at:
And try out a pair of Xero Shoes for less than the cost of a large pizza (a good one, with a couple of toppings, that is ;-) )
If you have any questions about Xero Shoes or barefoot running, walking, hiking, etc., just drop me a line or give a call.
Feel The World!
-Steven Sashen, CEO