The art of walking barefoot. What does it mean? Table of contest:

Walking Barefoot brings a lot of benefits, it allows you to shape the foot through natural contact with the ground. It was noticed by some shoe manufacturers who tried to produce shoes that fit the natural shape of the feet. Their work and the approval of the world of science allow the dissemination of knowledge about barefoot. Why is this important? We may think that the manufacturers of shoes do their best to ensure that the shoes we wear are as good as possible for our feet, but the reality is more grim. Most of today's shoes do not conform to the natural shape of the human foot, and this mismatch can cause serious problems whether we are aware of it or not. In this article,we want to explain what the barefoot idea is and why it is becoming a global trend. In the world, the barefoot is supported by doctors and physiotherapists, thanks to which it is gaining more and more supporters. As a result, there is more and more research on the importance of barefoot walking and the impact on the development of body biomechanics, although this topic has been studied for a long time. So what is the barefoot? Why is it so important and why is it best to start walking barefoot or put on barefoot shoes as soon as possible? You will find out in this article.

What is barefoot?

the art of walking barefoot

Barefoot is a scientifically proven idea of walking barefoot, resulting directly fromt he fact that our feet were evolutionarily designed so that they could interact with the ground. When we stand,the feet become the foundation of our body. If any part of the foot is mechanically dysfunctional - it will have a knock-on effect up the body. Walking barefoot makes the foot develop properly,i.e. it maintains its natural shape, and its muscles are strong and stable both when standing upright and while running. The foot is constructed to absorb and cushion landing on the ground during various activities. Barefoot shoes provide the maximum possible feeling of walking barefoot, while protecting the sole of the foot from damage. Barefoot shoes are often referred to as minimalist shoes because they are considered to minimize changes in a person's natural movement.

Barefoot sheds new light
on contemporary problems with foot activity and deformation.

A comparison of two feet, one belonging to a person walking mostly barefoot and one belonging to a person walking in shoes.

About 95% of people are born with healthy feet[1], but lifelong shoving feet into inappropriate shoes has led to a significant deterioration in their performance. Research by the American Podiatric Association (APMA) confirms that 77% of Americans experience significant foot pain[2]. Most of us (people living in cities) have feet that are unnaturally bent due to footwear that is inflexible and, above all, that are not adjusted to the shape of the feet. This design is the cause of the widespread foot pain among shoe wearers and other complications.

A classic children's shoe that deforms the shape of the foot and restricts movement and motor skills

Scientists are increasingly saying that the best therapy for the feet is walking barefoot. However, this fact is not so widely spread anymore. We must remember that a sedentary lifestyle also has a bad effecton our body. This information is very food for thought, the more so as around 2 million premature deaths per year are attributed to a lack of physical activity[3] The World Health Organization has issued a stern warning that 60 to 85% of people worldwide lead a sedentary lifestyle, and it is a key contributor to most of the top 10 causes of death in developed countries. Living a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, breast cancer, and depression. To make matters worse, about 80% of young people are also not active enough[4]. It's time to start thinking about increasing your activity, but before that, it is worth thinking about feet, because they are crucial forus during almost every physical activity.

Barefoot known to our ancestors?

Hermes winged feet

Already the ancient greek philosophers described how ill-fitting sandals lead to" sickness" of the feet. At first glance, the art of ancient Greece portrays barefoot walking as something naturally occurring at that time. Footwear -mostly sandals existed in Greece. It was probably more popular or common than the works of art indicate. However, it is impossible to say how common bare feet were in everyday movement. While sandals were commonly used among physically inactive or moderately active people, military personnel did not wear footwear during fight or any physical activity. Even in the treaty - Political System of Sparta [5] there were records: "Instead of softening the boys' feet with sandals he required them to harden their feet by going without shoes. He believed that if this habit were cultivated it would enable them to climb hills more easily and descend steep inclines with less danger, and that a youth who had accustomed himself to go barefoot would leap and jump and run more nimbly than a boy in sandals".

Researchers at the University of Johannesburgin South Africa compared the feet of modern people from different populations to the feet of 2,000-year-old skeletons and concluded that before footwear, people had healthier, stronger feet[6]. Another study compared the feet of South African and German children and found that those who walked barefoot regularly (mostly South African children) had healthier feet than German children, most of whom had worn shoes for their entire lives. Children who walked barefoot also had less problems with persistent flat feet and deformed big toes, as well as more flexible feet[7][8]. Even in the 1880s, European doctors and scientists published studies on the problems caused by footwear, including article with a telling title "Why the shoe pinches?"[9] by Georg Hermann von Meyer. In 1895, the study "A study of the weak foot" showed how the shoes we wear directly affect the ability to move[10].

nike unbinding sandals barefoot



Portrait photo of Philip Hoffman, a researcher on the effects of shoes on feet Where as in 1905 Dr. Philip Hoffman wrote a scientific paper showing how traditional shoes deform feet [11]. As a research group, he chose the inhabitants of the British island of St.Helena, where half of the population wore shoes and the other half did not. He concluded that there was a direct relationship between the number of years of wearing shoes and the degree of deformation of the big toe - leading to the formation of bunions[12].


Portrait photo of Dr. William Rossi, author of many articles, books and researcher on the effects of shoes on feet In the middle of the last century, the famous doctor of podology, William Rossi, spoke loudly about the problems related to the lack of appropriate footwear on the market. In his article [13], he indicated examples that confirmed that the shoes produced at that time were not suitable for human feet. He exhaustively described the myths about footwear that have been repeated for generations and are considered harmful from the scientific point of view.

In his article "Why shoes make "normal" gait impossible,[14] Dr. Rossi wrote:" It took 4 million years to develop the structure of the unique human foot and our distinctive way of moving. With one carelessly designed instrument, the shoes, we distorted the pure anatomical form of the human gait, hinderingits engineering effectiveness, harassing it with tensions and stresses, and denying it its natural form and ease of movement from head to toe." On our barefoot blog you can read the myths compiled by Dr. W. Rossi and find out why duplicating them adversely affects the human foot.

How naturally shaped feet are deformed by shoes

Experience the benefits of barefoot

1. We let our feet move freely and naturally.

Our feet are full of nerve endings that create an essential sensory feedback loop that connects the brain to the feet and the rest of the body. Maintaining this system is the basis of healthy, active movement. Rigid, inflexible footwear disturbs this rhythm, while preventing the feet from connecting with the ground on which we walk, which destructively affects the sensations we receive and disturbs the impulses of the nerve connections that are directly related to the most important organs. Barefoot shoes give your feet an environment similar to the feeling of walking barefoot. However, we must remember that nothing can replace the contact of a bare foot with the ground, so if you have such an opportunity - take off your shoes.

2. We build a strong foundation for our body.

As mentioned, research has shown that children who grow up largely without shoes have stronger feet, fewer injuries and less problems with persistent flat feet. In the case of bare feet and ankles, their muscles are constantly working, becoming strong and flexible. The big toe becomes straight and strong, it becomes the anchor and pivot point for all body movement as it should. This builds the foundation of a healthy body for life, including skills such as maintaining proper body posture and deep squatting, which is a great sign of being flexible.

3. We develop body awareness.

We develop features in children that are responsible, among others ,for awareness of the body in the environment. Being barefoot helps children to improve dexterity and balance of the whole body, which translates in to the manner of movement and proper posture. In our increasingly detached world, keeping your feet on the ground in nature is no small matter.


Good to know: Have you heard of vitamin G? Its name comes from the first letter of the English word grounding. Our nervous system, heart beat, and brain all function thanks to electrical impulses. When any of these natural impulses are disturbed, your body's communication system suffers. Walking barefoot provides contact with the ground through which we obtain negatively charged grounding electrons. These electrons can act as antioxidants. Their main advantage, apart from their anti-aging effect, is their ability to reduce inflammation. The best and easiest way to get your daily vitamin G intake is to walk barefoot on grass, sand, mud and even concrete for 20-40 minutes a day.

"Normal" shoes vs barefoot shoes.

How barefoot shoes relate to the naturally shaped foot.

Today’s "normal" fashionable children’s shoes are usually stiff and narrow enough that they can significantly contribute to deformation of the foot as it grows. Stiff shoes prevent the natural movement of the foot and the sending of important sensory information that our feet transmit to the brain via hundreds of thousands of nerve endings. Too narrow shoes disturb the movement and balance of the wholebody, moreover, they crush the foot so that its muscles cannot grow strong, wide and flexible, while the tapered toe box squeezes the toes. This affects especially the big toe, which must be straight and strong in order to be the anchor and pivot point for full body movement. The sole is also very important, as it should be flat along its entire length, i.e. from the heel to the tips of the toes. Wearing shoes with heel support or those with the heel and toes unnaturally bent upwards, so that they do not come into contact with the ground, lead to posture disorders and disrupts the natural balance and walking process of children. The feet on which these shoes are worn will in the future show anatomical and functional abnormalities - like ayoung tree that was planted on a slope. We do not promise that thanks to barefoot shoes, children will have straight spines, healthy knees and hips, and will never have to visita physical therapist. Because although these first shoes are extremely important, research shows that not only they are important for motor development and human health. Important are also each subsequent. The foot is shaped up to the age of 18-21, and the effects of poorly selected shoes accompany a person throughout his life. So it is time to seriously consider our children's feet.

Good to know:A ten-year study by Bournemouth University found that keepings hoes outside the classroom helped children concentrate more, behave better, and achieve better academic performance[16].


Free your feet and catch natural stability.

The big toe is the foundation of our barefoot balance

The big toe is BIG for a reason, four times thicker and denser than our other fingers, and literally plays a key role in healthy movement and balance. For that to be the case, shoes should have several basic features that will ensure comfort not only to the toes, but to the entire feet.

Features of barefoot shoes.

  • With wide toe box
    The feet work best (if not barefoot) when they are in shoes suitable for their shape. The shoes must be wide enough to provide enough space for the free movement of all the toes and thus to provide the necessary broad support. Barefoot shoes follow the natural shape of the foot, making sure toes are not squashed. Thanks to this, they can stretch with each step, which helps to create a strong foundation for healthy movement of the whole body and prevents us from feeling the pain of squeezing the edges of the feet.
  • Light and thin
    Just like our hands - feet are create to feel! In barefoot shoes, as thin as possible (but very durable and puncture-resistant) sole is used, designed so that the feeling of wearing them resembles walking barefoot. When we use too stiff shoes, additionally cushioned, e.g.with insoles (mainly in children), we limit the flow of important sensory information transmitted directly to the brain, which significantly improves the quality of our gait.
Flexible sole in barefoot kids shoes
  • Flexible
    Shoes that can be effortlessly bent to each side (rolled up) with one hand allow all 26 bones, hundreds of muscles, ligaments and tendons to bend freely. Each of our feet absorbs approximately 640 tons of pressure per day. The body's ability to distribute such pressure effectively is of great importance, fortunately, a healthy foot has built-in mechanisms that store and release energy with each step. People who grow up mostly barefoot have been shown to have stronger, healthier feet and also show fewer cases of flat feet. Children who grow up largely unruly also have better coordination and motor skills than their friends in shoes[17].
  • With zero-drop sole
    The height difference between the heel and toes is zero, the sole is flat and even along the entire length. This means that your entire foot is flat on the ground, just like walking barefoot. In this way, we relieve the lower back and allow a much healthier gait from the midfoot to the forefoot. The frequent wearing of shoes with araised heel can damage and shorten the Achilles tendon, which directly affects your entire body posture. On the other hand, the unnatural elevation of the sole in the toes (which is often used to make it easier for children to walk, especially in small sizes in models within flexible sole) in the long run may lead to the dysfunction of the big toe, the importance of which we discussed above.
  • No unnecessary stiffeners
    Traditional shoes usually include some type of cushioning, an arch, or extra insoles. The intention is to support and facilitate the work of the foot, which seems positive at first glance. However, if the foot does not have to do any work, it becomes weaker overtime. While walking, remains in "sleep mode" and stiffened muscles are unable to move freely. Barefoot shoes have deliberately omitted any type of stiffening so that the muscles themselves maintain the arching and absorb impacts during movement.

Where to start your adventure with the barefoot?

walking barefoot

First of all, go barefoot as much as possible whenever you have the opportunity. Look with a grain of salt at new footwear, always check whether the shoes are flexible and wide enough so that nothing will prevent your foot from moving freely. Check the shoes you already have and in which you spend the most time, pay attention to whether the shoes you use most often are suitable for your feet, or do not interfere with their natural shape. Below is a table showing the four steps in the evolution of footwear - the path from classic shoes to those closest to bare feet, because even the smallest step is important. Thetable was developed by biomechanist Katy Bowman and comes from her book - "Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet"[18], which we highly recommend. The table contains the 5 most important features of shoes that affect the condition of our feet. Changing any or all of these traits will have a positive effect on the health of your entire body.

If wearing shoes Best Not too Bad Hard on the body
Heel flat minimal positive, below 6mm positive 2,5 - 5 cm positive, more than 5 cm
Toe box (width) toes move freely toes have some space toes can't move toes are squished
Toe box (height) flat slightly lift before your foots is in elevated while standing elevated and stiff
Upper well attached sandal with heel strap slide flip-flop
Sole thin and flexible flexible, even if not so thin rigid, even if not so thick thick and rigid

construction of classic shoe
construction of barefoot shoe

Barefoot's share in the global footwear market.

The footwear market is very large, let us for example note that by the end of 2020 the global market for orthopedic insoles will be worth approximately USD 3.5 billion[19]. Insoles can actually improve comfort in the event of foot pain, but it is only a short-term relief that endangers the feet in the long termand disrupts their natural walking rhythm. Our shoes have a direct impact on the way our entire body move sand works while walking, which is associated with other problems such as backpain, jointpain, hallux, etc. That is why it is so important to get the right shoes as soon as possible, it is especially important in the case of young children whose feet are mainly made of cartilage, which are soft and much more susceptible to deformation. The Barefoot market is growing strongly year by year, which can be seen from the interest and the sale itself. Many people are beginning to recognize the problem and appreciate the benefits of flexible footwear. As a result, more and more manufacturers are starting to take their first steps in the production of barefoot footwear. It is also favored by the development of technology and the availability of better and better materials used in the production process. But producing flexible shoes is not as easy as it may seem and there are many obstacles on the way to the "perfect product", which we wrote about in our article "Why are barefoot shoes so expensive".

Bosa Stopka - the voice of the idea of barefoot in Poland.

We constantly developing and is trying to provide its small customers (and the bigger ones too) with an increasing range of shoes, for various stages of development, types of feet. We strive to provide our clients with more and more professional knowledge about not only barefoot shoes, but also the general physical development of children and their feet, which is why we search for the most interesting information from the world of barefoot and provide it to you on our blog.

We hope that everyone who buys our barefoot shoes will stay with us for longer, and if not, at least they will always know what to look for when choosing the right shoes.

Can you join the barefoot idea? Yes! All you need to do is get the right knowledge and a pair of barefoot shoes. If you sign up for the newsletter during registration, you will receive a 5% discount on your first purchase.

Źródła:

[1] - Gore A, Spencer J. The Newborn Foot. American Family Physician. February, 2004:
https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0215/p865.html";
[2] - New survey reveals majority of Americans suffer from foot pain:
https://www.apma.org/files/APMA2014TodaysPodiatristSurveyAllFindings.pdf;
[3] - Physical inactivity a leading cause of disease and disability. World Health Organization. April 2002:
https://www.who.int/news/item/04-04-2002-physical-inactivity-a-leading-cause-of-disease-and-disability-warns-who;
[4] - Physical activity. World Health Organization. February, 2018:
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity;
[5] - Xen. Const. Lac. 2.3 :
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0210%3Atext%3DConst.%20Lac.%3Achapter%3D2%3Asection%3D3;
[6] - Zipfel B, Berger LR. Shod versus unshod: the emergence of forefoot pathology in modern humans? The Foot. December 2007:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232251119_Shod_versus_unshod_The_emergence_of_forefoot_pathology_in_modern_humans;
[7] - Hollander K, de Villiers JE, Sehner S, et al. Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescents. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):8079:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-07868-4#ref-CR4;
[8] - Hollander K, van der Zwaard B, de Villiers JE, et al. The effects of growing up habitually barefoot on foot mechanics and motor performance in children and adolescents. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010736;
[9] - Georg Hermann von Meyer "Why the Shoe Pinches":
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Why_the_Shoe_Pinches;
[10] - Whitman R. A study of the weak foot. Journal of bone and Joint Surgery. 1896:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835577;
[11] - Hoffman P. Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples. Journal of bone and Joint Surgery.October,1905:
https://journals.lww.com/jbjsjournal/Abstract/1905/03020/CONCLUSIONS_DRAWN_FROM_A_COMPARATIVE_STUDY_OF_THE.1.aspx;
[12] - Shine IB. Incidence of Hallux Valgus in a partially shoe-wearing community. British Medical Journal. June 1965:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2167058/pdf/brmedj02400-0040.pdf;
[13] - Children’s footwear: launching site for adult foot ills:
https://www.barefooters.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Rossi-ChildrensFootwear.pdf;
[14] - New survey reveals majority of Americans suffer from foot pain:
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/11299581/why-shoes-make-normal-gait-impossible-ronjonesorg;
[15] - Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18047442;
[16] - Daily Echo - The Bournemouth professor who says he's proved shoelessness is the key to good education:
https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/15067999.the-bournemouth-professor-who-says-hes-proved-shoelessness-is-the-key-to-good-education;
[17] - Hollander K, van der Zwaard B, de Villiers JE, et al. The effects of growing up habitually barefoot on foot mechanics and motor performance in children and adolescents. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010736;
[18] -Książka autorstwa Katy Bowman: Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet:
[19] - Foot orthotic insoles market to reach 3.5 USD billion by 2020:
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/foot-orthotic-insoles-market-to-reach-35-usd-billion-by-2020-570502031.html;