For years society has pushed to idea of wearing a supportive shoe. However, with recent research there has been a transition in the necessity of returning barefoot to prevent and help cure conditions and biomechanical issues of the whole body.
However, where being barefoot is not appropriate a minimalist shoe is a best alternative. Below explains the main difference between these types of shoes and its effect on the body.
Supportive shoes are characterised by a rigid and cushioning sole. What this causes is a reduction in proprioception which is how we feel the earth under our feet and habitually this leads to altering our walking style and biomechanics of the body. The alternative of going barefoot/minimalist allows our feet to mould around the surface in which we are walking over, soften the impact of landing, increase the flexibility, strength and stability of our feet and ankle.
Due to supportive shoes having a stiff sole they will also have a toe spring. A toe spring is where the front of the shoe kicks up. Toe springs are necessary due to the foots inability to create pulsion through the big toe and foot arch. With time this reduces the foot strength and arch height and can cause ‘flat feet’. While with barefoot/minimalist shoes the foot is freer and more flexible and thus the big toe, longitudinal arch and intrinsic muscles together create propulsion.
This stiffness through the foot and toes is also affected by the toe space provided in the shoe. More traditional shoes will have a narrower toe box. This will cause the toe cramp together and in time can alter the position of our toes which can visually lead to conditions such as bunions and can functionally after how our body moves. Minimalist shoes are made to allow the toe to splay out which again promotes foot and ankle flexibility, correct foot posture and normalises walking patterns.
In conclusion, being barefoot is most ideal to optimise foot function, body biomechanics, lower limb stability and flexibility. However, this is something that needs to be weaned into especially if you are suffering from any foot pain. If you have any further questions on shoes, going barefoot or your feet please get in contact with us!