What to Look for in Barefoot Shoes (and a tour of my shoe closet)

barefoot shoes and high heels

I know, these are (mostly) not barefoot shoes–wear heels at your own risk!

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about barefoot shoes and the barefoot movement. Maybe you even have a pair of barefoot shoes, and you’ve certainly seen those funny five finger Vibrams walking around.

Foot health is about more than simply not wearing high heels and getting a pedicure! (You can see my solutions for high heel lovers in why wearing high heels are bad for you, and why I do it anyway.)

And there are a lot more barefoot shoes out there now than those ugly Vibrams. Yeah, I said it. Vibrams are ugly, and let’s face it, a lot of the early barefoot shoes were ugly. Now, there are so many more options out there. You don’t have to settle for ugly.

Soft Star has some cute sandals, mary janes, moccasins, and the Runamoc (nicer versions than I show you in the video–mine are several years old). Xero shoes would be a great sandal/flip-flop replacement. I haven’t tried them yet, so can’t vouch for them, but they look great! Even a simple pair of ballet flats (with absolutely no heel) would work just fine. And as I show in the video, Chuck Taylor’s will also fit the bill. So, know that you don’t have to go expensive.

For more in depth on benefits of going barefoot see the benefits of wearing barefoot shoes and going barefoot.

For those of you seeking out some good barefoot options here are 4 things to look for:

No heel. REALLY no heel. If you think your athletic shoes or “flats” are truly flat–think again. Technically, what you are looking for is a zero drop shoe. There should be no difference between the front and back of the shoe when you look at it from the side. If there is even a little bit of difference–say quarter inch it will alter your alignment and your gait.

Wide toe box. This means no pointy toes, but also not wearing shoes that are too narrow overall. Your toes should be able to wiggle and spread out.

Firmly attached to your foot.  This means no flip flops, clogs, mules etc. Any shoe that is not firmly attached, you will grip with your toes to keep on. This constant gripping action causes your toes to curl, and can lead to hammertoes if you wear flip-flops a lot.

Flexible The sole of the shoe needs to be flexible . You should be able to fold it in half or close to it. The less rigid the better.

Your first step is to get out of any positive heeled shoes. Then, gradually replace your current shoes with more foot friendly options. The more of these four elements you have in your shoes, the healthier your feet (and your whole body) will be.

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