I can’t quite believe how much I’m enjoying wearing my new ‘barefoot’ shoes since I got them a few weeks ago. And yes, these are Scottish feet in the photograph below, so that peculiar dead skin colour is normal.
A quick primer on barefoot shoes from one source:
“…barefoot shoes feature little to no cushioning, a thinner, more flexible sole, a wide toe box, and minimal arch support, if any. This design is based on foot anatomy and aims to allow more natural foot movement, feeling, and balance.”
I have always enjoyed walking barefoot in warmer weather, using sandals or going bare foot on beaches. I even have a pair of those ridiculous Vibram Five Fingers shoes somewhere — I used to use them for beach holidays and exploring rockpools. They never fit around my toes well!
On a recent episode the Radio 4 show Ramblings one of Clare Balding’s walking companions was talking about about the benefits of minimal walking boots and this tempted me to try an initial pair to see how I found them. I tried a couple of brands and found that Vivobarefoot, a British company, fit me well and I was impressed at their repair and recycling policies too1.
Moving away from high-tech design feels like a backwards step with no side supports, no cushioning for heels or arch support, so it does feel like wearing the absolute minimum needed to protect your feet from the ground. However it suits me and feels right even with waring them for many hours.
What I am most enjoying is the sensation of feeling the ground or earth beneath my feet as I walk. The other benefit is that my feet feel natural in these shoes — my toes are not squeezed together as they often are in a normal shoe. I’m impressed at just how comfortable they are to wear all day.
Now that we’re moving into winter it’s time to think about barefoot boots!