A Guide to Walking in Barefoot Shoes: Tips For Striding with Ease

Walking, Exercise and Health Shoe Selection and Care

A Guide to Walking in Barefoot Shoes: Tips For Striding with Ease

Have you bought barefoot shoes and don't know how to walk in them? We'll teach you the right technique in a few steps. Listen to your body, enjoy the benefits of barefoot.

Walking properly is an art. Any physiotherapist, orthopedist, or personal trainer could tell you about it – in fact, anyone who treats health problems related to walking or body structure. You might be surprised, but walking is not an easy skill. Try to think about the last time you were actually aware of your body movements, focused on engaging the right muscles, paid attention to standing upright with shoulders slightly back, chest open, and watched your breath and foot position.

Was it today? Then congratulations – be proud of yourself.

If you can‘t remember, don’t worry. Read on to get back on track and remind yourself of the basic rules of correct body posture when walking – especially in barefoot shoes which represent the best healthy choice for your feet and your whole body.

First time in barefoot shoes

If you have decided to switch to barefoot shoes, you are on the right track to becoming aware of your (good and bad) movement patterns and awakening muscles that have been dormant. Not just in your legs and feet, but throughout your body. You’ll soon feel it yourself with every step you take. You’ll realize how many muscles have been wasting away as a result of wearing conventional footwear. But don’t panic – barefoot shoes can awake them to their full potential again.

For that reason, your feet might hurt after you walk your first few kilometres, but that’s okay. They’ll get soon used to it and you’ll find a whole new way of seeing the world and the ground you’re walking on. The best moment to experience the switch is in the woods, or on a gravel path – but don’t rush it. 

The transition from regular shoes to barefoot shoes does not necessarily have to be taken too strictly. Take your time. You need to get used not only to your fresh pair of shoes but the brand-new type of walking as well. Try walking smaller distances at first, ideally outside of the city. Give your feet muscles time to gain strength after the long time of inaction. Your body will thank you and it’ll make you feel even better.

Our tip: massage your feet. By stimulating your soles, the transition to barefoot shoes will be smoother and your day even better. The soles are an entryway to our nervous system which constantly sends signals to the brain. After the brain evaluates these signals, it determines our movements by issuing orders to the musculoskeletal system. The more sensations the brain receives from the nerve endings in the feet, the more precisely it coordinates our body. The stimulation of the feet is carefully studied by NABOSO Technology.

Step by step: How to walk in barefoot shoes?

You might have heard this a thousand times before: walking in barefoot shoes is different from walking in conventional shoes. But have you ever wondered why and how? Our movement pattern is based on years of habits acquired from walking in regular shoes that don‘t give the foot as much room and don’t offer the flexibility of a barefoot shoe. Learning to walk properly in barefoot shoes is like learning to breathe differently. At first, it takes practice and effort followed by listening to your body. Soon it will set you on the right path.

1. Correct body posture

It all starts at the head and ends at the heels. Yoga instructors often use the phrase: "follow the crown of your head towards the ceiling". Try it. It‘s like you have a balloon tied to the back of your head and it‘s pulling you up. It‘ll bring your chin down. Concentrating on this head position will help you to straighten your whole body.

So: align the head, straighten the spine, roll the shoulders back, slightly expand the chest, activate the centre of the body (pull in the navel), tuck the pelvis, straighten the legs and feel these four magical activation points in your foot:

Did it work? Have you automatically straightened up, no matter what you were doing? All it takes is to focus a few times a day. By the way - this four-point support system will hold you up whether you‘re lifting hundred-pound weights at the gym, waiting for the bus or in the checkout line.

Why are four support points than the three you hear about more often? Because the heel deserves more. When the weight is distributed not on one point in the middle but on both sides, the foot can perform better and is more stable. Give it a try.

Focusing on correct posture during every little daily task would be a huge step for humanity, which could prevent multitudes of orthopaedic or podiatric appointments or physiotherapy sessions. Let’s not go that far. First, concentrate on good body posture every morning, take a few deep breaths, and smile. A perfect morning ritual and a great kick-start for an amazing day.

2. Take shorter steps

"Adjusting stride length is very important for good foot strike. The longer the stride, the worse the position of the foot during the stride, when your foot first touches the ground at the places outside the fat pad. This fat pad under the heel bone is designed to absorb shock and vibration as you walk. The drop or high soles of conventional shoes provide cushioning, but at the same time, they strip the foot of its natural function. In addition, there is a different transmission of vibrations. Once the shoe is off, the foot must return to its natural function as a shock absorber, which is not always easy," says Edita Prošková.

The difference between short and long stride is best perceived when running. Longer strides often lead to heel striking. On the other hand, shortening your stride helps to land over the fat pad (sometimes directly the mid-sole) to the toes. 

Barefoot shoes won’t let you stomp. You’ll either realize it hurts or you’ll soon feel pain in your knees. Instead, try to get used to shorter stride.

A little tip for barefoot beginners is to place their feet under their body. This will automatically shorten the stride and the body will tend to land on the heel pad and the whole foot.

3. Foot strike and toe-off

If someone tells you that people wearing barefoot shoes should land on their toes when walking, they’re wrong. Maybe when zigzagging between branches in the woods, but not on regular terrain – you are no ballerina. When walking in barefoot shoes, land on the heel, but be careful – land evenly on the entire heel pad. Then gradually transfer your weight forward over the middle of your foot to your toes. Then push them into the ground and toe off while pointing your toes straight in the direction of your walk.

When you’re walking in barefoot shoes or entirely barefoot, you should utilize not only the three support points in your feet but the toes as well. Provided enough room, your toes can help you when you’re walking or standing still. Do you remember the last time you focused on using your toes? It’s not an easy endeavour if they’re scrunched up in tight conventional shoes.

Can you actaully walk wrong in barefoot shoes?

Unfortunately, you can. Even though barefoot shoes are perfectly adapted to natural gait, people often stick to their habits and therefore keep walking the wrong way even after switching to barefoot shoes. Changing the type of footwear is not enough. You also need to change your movement patterns and be conscious of your movements, at least in the beginning. Your body will soon catch on.

What to pay attention to when walking in barefoot shoes?

Listen to your body and rely on your feelings

Now you know all the basics about walking in barefoot shoes. Hopefully, you weren’t discouraged by the flood of information. Consider it a guide and a recommendation, your body will show you how to do the rest. When taking your first steps in barefoot shoes, enjoying your first kilometres, hills and forest paths or concrete pavements – always feel your body, your feet, your legs. Think about how the body learns to adapt to a long-forgotten way of walking on varied terrain.

Discover. Explore. Enjoy.

If something starts to hurt, make sure you look for the cause. Maybe it's a bad walking habit. It's not easy to change a pattern. Your body needs to get used to it and learn. But if the pain is uncomfortable or persistent, consult a specialist.

We wish you many happy barefoot kilometres!

Where will your footsteps lead next?



 

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