I’ve been wearing barefoot shoes for at least 7 years, ever since I was exposed to them. As a Chiropractor, and especially as one who greatly values a natural approach to health, it made sense that feet were made to walk and to support our weight. I embraced that value and bought some Vibram Fivefingers.
They are awesome. It took a few months for my feet to fully adapt to them but I have never looked back. I used to be flat footed. There were almost no arches on my feet, and years ago, a Chiropractor of mine had given me orthotics to help with that. My knee pain went down to about 10% of what it was, and my low back stabilized somewhat, but I still had regular issues in both. I wore those orthotics for about 10 years.
Orthotics are designed to force an arch into the foot, raise the heel, all in the name of helping it align properly. You might think that the idea of aligning the foot would appeal to me, as a Chiropractor. In a sense, you’re right. But you’re also very wrong. You see, there are 26 bones in the foot, and they not only need to be in the right space next to the other bones, but they need to be able to move about. If they can’t move, then they can’t be healthy. Your foot should flatten as your walk, and then arch as you push off. It can’t do that in an orthotic, especially a hard one.
Fivefingers, and other barefoot or minimalist style shoes, allow the feet to move as they should. They have a wide toe box, no heel lift, and no arch support. People often ask me if they provide good support, and I have to say, “No,” because they don’t. But what they do is train the foot to be solid and stable all on its own. Because that’s what feet do. They are designed to do that.
I now have arches in my feet. Such that when I walk with wet feet, you no longer see a full outline of my foot on the ground, but only where my foot touches. And they have never felt better. My knees and low back have also stabilized, and better than when I had orthotics.
Are you interested in going barefoot? If so, talk to me about it. It can take some time to transition properly, and I learned a lot during my journey with them. Once you do, I’m sure you’ll be happy with them, but don’t just jump in and start running away. It takes training to undo the years of bad habits we’ve accumulated.
Take care, and put your best foot forward!