Barefoot Benefits:

The type of shoes and how to decide on a pair of fitting shoes is probably the most important key to preserving healthy feet because in the modern society we inevitably have to wear shoes throughout our day. Aside from footwear, we should encourage kids, adults and elderly to get familiar with and then start practising “barefoot techniques and exercises” outside in natural environments. These environments could be a grass field, mud, sand, rocky areas (if able to tolerate), or simple pavement or cement. And last but not least I realize that walking barefoot may have benefits associated with the practice of reflexology as the feet have an enormous amount of “reflexes” in the feet which correspond to the function of our glands and organs in our bodies. There are also a large amount of receptors under the feet which may starve from the lack of “feel” and sensory information if our feet are in shoes all day everyday.

Type of shoes and what to look for:

In my opinion, the best shoes are the ones that feel  the most comfortable to your own feet. However, this does not mean that “comfort” equals the “best” shoes; because we may have gotten used to a squishy pair of shoes or a shoe with a very high heel. If this is you then you need practice barefoot walking on natural ground in order to allow your feet to re-educate itself into healthy feet. Anyway, enough of the “why,” lets talk about the “what.” I will not go into detail about each type of shoe but I will point out some general attributes of them. The best and most natural shoes that mimic barefoot feel that I have learned about are “Vivobarefoot, Nike free trainers, and Huaraches (worn by the superhuman tribe, Tarahumara). The Vivobarefoot shoes have a thin sole which feels like you are touching the ground directly. It also has a wide enough toe box at the front to allow the toes to move freely, and finally it has no arch support which facilitates our natural foot arch to become stronger. The Huaraches are probably the thinnest footwear out there which mimics barefoot walking and running to its full potential. Since it is a sandal it is even better than the VivoBarefoot shoes. Lastly, we have the extremely popular Nike free trainers. These shoes are excellent because they have the properties of the Vivobarefoot shoes except for having a thicker sole. It is also extremely flexible which allows the foot and toes to freely move around and promote a natural “foot workout” within the shoes. As the renowned Physiotherapist and Coach, Kelly Starrett said, “we only need a sole thick enough to prevent bruising.” After reading this I hope you find the appropriates shoes to accommodate your daily activities.

Exercises to increase awareness, feel, and proprioception:

As Barefoot walking and running author Michael Sandler said, “we do not know where our feet wants to go in a pair of shoes because they cannot “feel;” only the rich sensory information from our feet contacting the ground would be able to tell us that.” The enormous amount of mechanoreceptors in our feet which function to feel and send information to our brain seems obvious that only by direct contact with the ground will we be able to “feed” these receptors and therefore, our brain and nervous system. By being in shoes everyday and all day, our feet becomes “foreign” to natural ground even if we have no injuries or debilitations. You can go outside and try this by testing barefoot walking or even just standing on “snow, bed of rocks, grass, cement etc. After a while or even a few minutes you may start complaining about the aches and pains or even saying that it is “weird.” Again, the reason is that our feet have becoem “foreign” to natural environments.


By walking on different natural surfaces we allow our feet to directly contact the ground and the reaction force from the ground can stimulate our “reflexes” and may cause changes in our glands and organs. It is obvious that some areas of the feet will take in more pressure and this may be the key to which organs and glands receive more or less benefits.

~Open Our Minds,

  1. […] Barefoot Benefits: Type of Shoes, Barefoot Feel, Reflexology […]

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