Can Walking Barefoot Cause Flat Feet
Walking barefoot does not cause flat feet or any other such problems if done right.
The only major cause for flat foot disorder is wearing footwear that does not have proper arch support based on your foot type.
Podiatrists worldwide suggest that walking on sand, grass, or walking barefoot is a healthy approach to get rid of various types of foot problems including sprain and pain.
If you are a beginner and want to get the benefits of barefoot walking you should be starting with short 15- to 20-minute sessions. When comfortable, you can increase it to about 30 to 45 minutes.
The disadvantage or the only risk factor, while you walk barefoot, is the infection you can pick due to micro-organisms if you walk on a dirty surface.
Also, if you walk on a very hard surface like concrete there may be chances of your ankle or feet getting injured.
What’s Better Running Barefoot Or In Shoes
But, with that being said, you know, I really don’t have a strong stance on if minimalist shoes are the way to go, compared to a traditional running shoe, and this is basically because of how conflicted the research is.
So I’m not gonna sit here and just give you my opinions on if minimalist running shoes are better than traditional running shoes.
We’re actually gonna look into the research today and we’re gonna see if minimalist running shoes improve running economy and prevent injuries, compared to traditional running shoes.
So grab your popcorn and grab a drink because this is gonna be one of the longer videos.
But I hope you’ll be able to walk away with some good information after watching this video, and make the decision if trying a minimalist running shoe or running barefoot is right for you.Now, throughout this video I’m gonna be throwing up some slides too, so you guys can kind of see the information right in front of your face.
Sometimes it’s just, kind of, easier to read and digest that information, as opposed to just listening to me the whole time.
What Are Minimalist Running Shoes
Minimalist running shoes are loosely defined as shoes that, compared to traditional running shoes, more closely mimic the way we naturally run when barefoot while still providing some protection from hazards on the ground. Theyre characterized by minimal amounts of cushioning in the midsoles and, in particular, by a lack of beefy heel cushioning.
Traditional running shoes often feature a heel-to-toe drop of 10-12 millimeters . By contrast, minimalist shoes usually have less than an 8-millimeter drop. They might also have no drop at all , meaning your heel and forefoot are at the same level as they are when youre barefoot.
The above info is true for most barefoot and minimally cushioned shoes, but you will also find a few outliers in those categories that have a heel drop that falls outside these ranges. Note, too, that heel drop and the overall amount of cushioning in a shoe are independent of each other. It is possible, for example, to find ultra-cushioned shoessometimes called maximalist shoesthat have a zero heel-to-toe drop. Learn more about shoes at the other end of the cushioning spectrum in What You Need to Know About Maximalist Running Shoes.
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Why Barefoot Or Arch Support Shoes
On todays episode of the Open Sky Fitness Podcast, Devon and I are tackling the ultimate clothing question: Is it better to walk or exercise while wearing barefoot, minimal shoes are shoes with tons of arch support?
Either way, why did we even begin to wear shoes in the first place and what makes barefoot or arch support shoes so important to our foots health?
Not only will we be discussing the pros and cons of either shoe, but also:
- Anatomy of the human foot
- The structure of a shoe
- Traditional shoe problems
- How to transition into wearing barefoot shoes
- Some of our favorite barefoot/minimal shoe brands
- How to heal the foot
Best For Muddy Trails
Vivobarefoot’s Primus Trail shoes come in two flavors, FG and SG, which stand for firm ground and soft ground. I recommend the latter. They’re a bit like mud tires for your bare feet. If you do any trail running, you’ll appreciate the heavier tread and the way the SG gets you through muddy, boggy spots without slipping. Last winter was one of the wettest on record in my part of the country, and I ran muddy trails in these every day without ever slipping or sliding.
My one gripe is that the heel stitching gave me awful blisters. Actually, “blisters” is a nice word for the wounds I’ve received from these shoes, but I liked them so much otherwise that I experimented until I found a solution: I put a piece of moleskin over the area and they’re fine. They remain my go-to choice for trail running, but I suggest trying them on in-person if possible.
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Other Reasons To Consider Minimalist Footwear
Indeed, ChiRunning a program designed to improve running technique was encouraging forefoot striking and other related mechanics as far back as 1999, before the rise of minimalist footwear sport scientist Michael Yessis did the same in his 2000 book Explosive Running.
Yet there might be other compelling reasons to switch.
Experienced minimalist runners say they have a better awareness of their bodies in space . Greater proprioception in turn improves balance and stability.
Also, with greater feedback from the terrain, joints get a better workout.
And all this is magnified when you move from minimalist shoes to a true barefoot experience.
When your sole touches the ground, you enjoy all kinds of sensations. Hot, cold, wet, dry. Remember squishing in the mud when you were a kid, or burrowing into cool sand? Its fun to feel with your feet!
Are Barefoot Shoes Good For High Arches
Moving to barefoot or minimalist shoes is about letting your feet do their natural thing, reconnecting your brain to your body and the natural world around you.
Its pretty awesome.
But are your high arches putting you off?
High arches can sometimes lead to aches and pains and other issues like shin splits and plantar fasciitis. How do you know if your arches are high? Step onto a piece of cardboard with wet feet, and check out your footprint. A high arch means youll only see the imprint of your forefoot and heel. A moderately high arch will show a thin line down the outer side of your foot. Its a fairly common trait, which, if theyre not caused by an underlying illness, is probably down to your genes. What you do for your high arches though thats up to you. And because traditional podiatrists often push people with high arches into orthotic inserts and supportive shoes which actively weaken the foots muscles, its worth considering whether the problem is really the so-called solution
Especially with high arches, strength is important: strong feet are less likely to be painful feet with restricted movement. Support muscles with inserts and they stops working. After all, when does immobilizing a muscle make it stronger?
2. HOW you walk is more important that how high your arches are.
3. There are some studies which support barefoot being beneficial for arch strength.
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Keep Your Feet Covered And Supported
Low back pain can occur suddenly, due to injury. It can develop gradually due to age, poor posture, occupation or fitness level. If you have even the slightest problem with your back, dont go barefoot. Your body must work harder if your support structure is compromised.
Talk to your doctor and physical therapist at SSI if you have any questions about your footwear. There are caveats to wearing shoes. The wrong kind can cause back pain, too. Avoid shoes that:
- Arent supportive
- Are unstable
- Have high heels that cause you to shift your weight forward to the front of your spine
- Have no heels, which is almost as bad as going barefoot
- Cause bunions, blisters, corns, calluses or hammer toe
Its all right to run barefoot in the grass. In moderation, it isnt harmful. Choose your shoes wisely for preventing back pain, and treat your toes to a walk on the beach or some wiggles on the lawn when your back is feeling its best.
Are Barefoot Shoes Dangerous
- Does a lack of arch support hurt my feet?
- Will my calf muscles get sore and painful?
- As a heel striker, will it hurt my heel?
It also takes time to rebuild the muscle strength needed for the foot to do its work. Like any muscle being stimulated, it can create some soreness which can easily be diminished by stretching exercises. For people who have a tendency to heel strike , it will be necessary to change their stride from heel striking to a mid-foot strike. This transition does not happen instantly and requires a steady progression. But the result is well worth it! Bringing your foot strike back under your body allows you to use your ankle as a spring rather than as a brake as you soften and cushion each landing. This results in big improvements to stride efficiency.
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Feet Are The Foundation
Foot function has a HUGE impact on our bodies. There is a kinetic chain running from our big toes, through our arch, up our legs and into the hips and spine that affects everything we do as humans. If your feet cant move well enough to engage the rest of the chain, you get a whole host of issues you probably didnt realize were connected to your feet. Like knee pain, back pain, etc. Sometimes you get the reverse too: An issue with your pelvis could be the reason for your throbbing big toe. If you are here because you have foot pain, youve probably become acutely aware of how much it can impact your life. Feet are a seriously underestimated part of our bodies, and turning our attention to them will come back in dividends throughout our lives.
Running Shoes Hiking Boots And Everything Else
When you run, especially on hard surfaces, your feet are vulnerable to impact. And youll want to protect them as much as possible with a cushion that absorbs the shock from running. This is why running and walking shoes tend to have more arch support, a cushioned sole, and typically a slightly higher heel-to-toe ratio to encourage good running and walking mechanics.
This is even more important when it comes to hiking on rough terrains because of the impact. Hiking boots have thick, sturdy soles, and tend to fit very tight around your feet and ankles to stabilize yourself in the case of uneven and slippery surfaces.
Unfortunately, your toes arent able to move around as much, but this is a tradeoff you probably want given how much you want to protect your feet from the rough surfaces youll be on.
One thing you may have seen, and its not okay, is lots of barefoot running on hard surfaces, like the road or sidewalk. Regardless of what some barefoot minimalist gurus say, this is a recipe for disaster. We are capable of running, even long distances barefoot, but we didnt evolve running on these hard surfaces.
Our ancestors who ran barefoot were doing so on prairies, jungle floors, dirt, or sand, not the Walmart asphalt.
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Are Minimalist Shoes Good For Flat Feet
What are flat feet and, more importantly, what does having them mean?
Feet are called flat when they have fallen arches and, as a result, overly pronate inwards it is a fairly common condition. They can be hereditary, be the result of an injury, or a combination of genes, footwear and other lifestyle factors.
Because so much conventional podiatry pushes insoles to support flat arches, many people with flat or flat-ish feet think barefoot isnt for them.
We say: THINK AGAIN!
Everyone is built differently, but having flat feet doesnt mean they cant also be STRONG feet. Strong feet are less likely to be painful feet that have restricted movement. Orthotic insoles restrict movement, potentially weakening the muscles of the arch. After all, how does immobilizing a muscle make it stronger?
2. What matters more than how flat your feet are is how you walk .
Barefoot inevitably means using all the muscles and tendons in your feet more, including the arches. Going barefoot and wearing minimalist shoes means you are more likely to have better gait when you run and walk, as your feet cannot land out in front of you in a crushing heel-strike. Mid-to-forefront landing, with feet under your hips and shorter steps can strengthen your foot muscles. So barefoot shoes might help you walk and run better, which in turn might help build up foot strength
Vivobarefoot And No Drop Shoes
When I needed to dress more professionally, I started to wear Vivobarefoot shoes.
These are known as a no drop shoe. That means you walk flat-footed and theres no heel.
The difference between no-drop shoes and a low heeled shoe. Image: REI
These shoes provided the least padding and cushioning possible for the foot.
I believed that these shoes provided the ideal conditions for how our feet should function.
But I was wrong.
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Footwear: A Brief History
Evidence suggests we first began to cover our feet around 40,000 years ago. The earliest shoes were made of soft, wrap-around leather and resembled sandals or moccasins. From these humble beginnings, footwear evolved to became the much sort after fashion accessory we know today.
Throughout history, shoes have been used as a symbol of wealth, freedom and power. In Roman times, slaves and prisoners were forced to go unshod, either as punishment or as evidence of their inferiority. In many cultures, removing your shoes prior to entering a home or a place of worship is a sign of courtesy and respect. High-heeled shoes were popularised by Louis XIV as a demonstration of wealth and power. Such shoes were so impractical that to walk or work in them, was virtually impossible, without the assistance of at least two servants.
On The Taboo Of Being Barefoot
Your feet and ankles are complex bundles of meat and connective tissue. And for thousands of years, we walked around barefoot nearly everywhere. Eventually, there were sandals and very primitive forms of shoes to protect our feet, but nothing like the shoes we wear today.
If you look at modern hunter-gatherers, youll see their feet are wider, with their toes naturally splayed. Their feet are also very tough and callused from walking around on the natural earth bed their entire lives.
This is because their feet have never been trapped by modern shoes like yours and mine have.
Imagine that. Your feet are designed to walk on all types of terrains, like sand, shells, dirt, rock, and twigs without a second thought.
But if you were to walk out into the forest right now with no shoes, youd likely tip toe around because of how tender the bottom of your feet are. Even walking out onto some slightly rough sidewalk can be painful.
This is the result of two things:
- Lack of regular exposure to these elements
- Modern shoes protecting your feet from birth
So before we get into whats optimal and whats optional, we want you to know this. Your feet are capable of so much more, and you can improve your ability to move well by being barefoot more often.
But there is a process here. If your feet have been trapped in tight shoes for 40 years, jumping straight into barefoot training is a recipe for injury.
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Minimalist Shoes For The In
Minimal shoes are great if you want some protection from the elements but still get that barefoot feel and the foot freedom youd have being barefoot.
A step up from these would be the Altra HIIT XT 2, or the Reebok Nano 2.0, which have a little more stability, a more durable sole, but still very light with wide toe boxes to mimic being barefoot.
Does Running Barefoot Or In Minimalist Shoes Decrease Injury Rates
At this point, wham, there’s really no downside to going the, you know, the minimalist route.” But I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and now, we’re gonna look at does minimalist footwear reduce the risk of injury?
So again, we’re not gonna rely on bro-science. We’re gonna go to real science.
Study #1: Runners in minimalist shoes reported greater rates of injury, shin and calf pain
So, study number one examined the effects of progressive increases in footwear minimalism on injury, incidence, and pain perception in recreational runners.
So when they’re talking about progressive increases in footwear minimalism, they’re talking about using shoes that have something like a 10-millimeter drop, a 6-millimeter drop, and then a 0-millimeter drop.
Subjects in this were 103 runners with neutral or mild overpronation, and they were assigned to receive 1 of 3 shoes
- the Nike Pegasus, which had the 10-millimeter heel drop
- the Nike Free which had a 6-millimeter heel drop
- and then the Vibram FiveFingers that had the 0-millimeter heel drop. A
And the researchers wanted to measure a few different things.
- The number of injuries that happened
- foot and ankle disability scores
- and visual analog scale pain rating, so they would, you know, throw up a scale of 1 to 10 in front of these runners in these different shoes.
They would say, “Hey, did running in those shoes was hurt? If so, how bad? Zero being nothing, 10 being the worst.”
So what were the results?
Let’s go on to the last study.
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