The Benefits of Going Barefoot and Wearing Barefoot Shoes
Barefoot training is gaining popularity among athletes and fitness professionals but is this all a fad or are there really science behind it all? After all, we are born to walk barefoot so maybe it is all meant to be.
Have you jumped on the bandwagon and tried training barefoot yet? If not, I highly recommend it. In fact, I insist you try it if it means going outside your comfort zone. If you’re like me who strive for optimal health, once you start, you won’t go back. Training barefoot has been life changing in my fitness journey. And with brands now offering sustainable options, it is like a dream come true helping me to align both my fitness and sustainable lifestyle.
As a fitness and movement coach, I knew I loved the feeling of training barefoot, I also knew there had to be reasons I felt so amazing without shoes. This has got a lot to do with the benefits of earthing but I will leave this topic for another time. According to podiatrist and human movement specialist Emily Splichal, D.P.M., there are thousands of nerve endings in your feet and when you stimulate them, you get a better feel for how you are standing, which can help improve your workout. When you wear padded shoes, your feet don’t get the same stimulation, so they can’t tell you if you’re doing it wrong. This is extremely important for me during movement exercises where connection, balance, and coordination with the ground are vital.
Training barefoot also gives you more stability. When your big toe can really dig into the ground, you give your entire body more stability. With more stability, you’re more likely to engage your core, which means a more intense workout.
Did you know that our feet naturally have shock absorption, but we over protect them by wearing cushiony shoes? You actually get a better workout when you train barefoot or even wearing barefoot shoes. Some people need the support of the shoes for certain pains, such as foot or knee pain. Because the barefoot shoes mimic your foot’s natural shape, you still get the benefits of working out barefoot, but with the protection you need.
Apart from wearing barefoot shoes in my workouts, my barefoot shoe journey includes long distance running. I run half marathons in them because I prefer the natural feel of the ground on my feet rather than the cushion of a shoe. I received many recommendations where conventional running shoes provide the support it needs when running long distances. But after training and participating in my half marathon runs, I get a better run in and I feel my running posture is better especially after being fatigued.
Trying the New Vivobarefoot Shoes
I have a long history of wearing barefoot shoes by Vibram, Xero, and Earth Runners, but recently I decided to try the new Vivobarefoot shoes.
The shoes I tried are in Vivobarefoot’s new sustainable line of barefoot shoes. Their current goal is to provide 100% sustainable materials by 2021. While they’re still working diligently on the process, I am impressed with their dedication to such hard work. It goes right in line with my own line of thinking and my products, so I was excited to try them!
I got myself two pairs of the Vivobarefoot sustainable shoes: Primus Knit Lux (in white) and the Primus Lite II Recycled (in black) and here’s what I think.
- The Primus Knit Lux has the signature 3mm barefoot sole for maximum sensory feedback and minimum interference. It uses premium knitted sock with ethically-sourced leather panelling, Algae Bloom performance insole, recycled RPET heel lining and lace.
- The Primus Lite II Recycled is testament to sustainable living. It uses durable yarn of recycled PET, breathable mesh, bio-based Bloom EVA performance insole and their signature super-thin outsole, providing lightweight and breathable movement. And most important of all it uses animal-free materials.
Both pairs of shoes were extremely comfortable. The soles are very thin, which is what I love, as I can feel each part of the ground as I walk. Most importantly, and as Dr. Splichal mentioned, you can feel the nerve feedback from your feet, which is what gives you such balance and a more intense workout. I could instantly tell when I wasn’t positioning my body right – it’s like my body talks to me when it’s barefoot.
I will say, though, at first, the leather and recycled PET material was a bit stiff and may get a bit uncomfortable when I am doing some movement drills while twisting and turning. But I continued to train in them and the stiffness feeling lasted around 5 days, but over time, I noticed that the leather and plastic loosened up and became more comfortable. Eventually, I got that barefoot feeling, or as if I weren’t wearing any shoes. I guess it’s like any shoe – it takes time to break them in.
I should mention that both pairs of shoes came with a removable sole. I tried the inner sole during my half marathon training, but I found that it continually slipped out of position. However, once I removed the inner sole, I realized that I like the feeling better without them. I want to be able to feel the ground as if I were running in my bare feet. This way provided me with more comfort and stability and I didn’t have to worry about slipping.
My Thoughts on the Vivobarefoot Shoes
I truly love my Vivobarefoot shoes and I highly recommend that anyone looking to train barefoot try these shoes, especially runners. I tend to prefer the Primus Lite II Recycled a bit more because it feels lighter in weight, providing a shoeless feel during a movement workout. I bought my first pair of Vivobarefoot shoes three years ago and they are still fully functional today, so they are definitely a great investment.
I do want to precaution you, though. If you’re used to wearing traditional running shoes, it will take you some time to get used to the barefoot shoes. I recommend that you work into them slowly, here’s why.
You typically run with your heel landing first. This isn’t the case when you run barefoot. Your entire posture will change, as you land with your mid-foot instead. This could lead to muscle tightness and overall soreness, which may cause some people to give up on barefoot running. To avoid this and rather than jumping right from regular gym shoes to barefoot shoes, I suggest a few things:
- Prepare your body – Your leg muscles will feel the largest difference because of the different running postures. Stretch your calves as much as possible. If you’re anything like me, they’ll feel tight after you start running with barefoot shoes.
- Practice walking with your new barefoot shoes first. You may even want to try taking smaller steps, just to break your body into the new posture.
- Eventually you can work your way up to running but start with short distances to make sure your body is ready.
If you’re already experienced with barefoot shoes, I highly recommend Vivobarefoot. They are comfortable, durable, and even stylish.
Running or training barefoot is a great way to shake up your workout routine. You’ll engage entirely new muscles and feel new strength from within your body. If you haven’t tried it yet – I encourage you to do so and I bet you’ll be like me and won’t’ turn back.
I am so happy with the Vivobarefoot shoes and their new sustainable goals, I gave them my thoughts and feedback. Remember, go for the sustainable range. They are perfect to start your barefoot and sustainable journey!
Check out Vivobarefoot or Sole Distribution if you’re in Australia. They ship worldwide!