Minimal shoes are becoming more and more popular. And it’s no wonder. They strengthen the musculoskeletal system, are able to improve your posture in the long term, and often they can even ease pain.
Are you thinking of getting some and trying out how it feels to move around while in direct contact with the ground? We’ve put together 10 reasons why you should switch permanently to minimal shoes (ideally Wildlings of course!).
1. You keep your feet free
Did you know that 98% of all children are born with healthy feet? Over the course of our lives we then squeeze them into shoes that are wrongly designed or simply don't fit. Thick soles, high heels and toe areas that are too narrow deform toes and restrict feet. If you go for minimal shoes you’re giving your feet what they crave: freedom.
Most conventional shoes come to a point at the front. Even sports shoes. Ask yourself the following question: What shape would your foot have to be in order to really fit in there? Minimal shoes, for example Wildlings, have a natural basic shape that’s based on an anatomical foot shape. They don’t restrict your feet. In fact the opposite is true: you can even wiggle your toes! Give it a try!
2. You strengthen your feet
With minimal shoes you gradually strengthen your foot muscles, which in many people are only developed to a basic extent, thanks to conventional shoes. Your toes become more agile and you feel freer. Caution: If you notice some muscle ache in the first few days, there's no need to worry. It’s a sign that you're activating muscles you haven't used for a long time, and it’ll soon let up.
After a little while you may also feel that your feet are getting a bit wider overall, noticeably stronger and more muscular. That's because the position of your toes is gradually returning to normal and your foot arches are spreading.
3. You move more naturally
In conventional shoes your feet have additional cushioning and shock absorption. Heels and soles soften your steps and are supposed to protect your feet and joints from impact. But that's not actually necessary. When you've been going through life in minimal shoes or even with completely bare feet for some time, you’ll certainly notice it.
Your foot arches are quite capable of doing their own shock absorbing. Any additional padding simply suppresses that effect. That’s why minimal shoes are not made with foot beds.
4. You walk your path more deliberately
In minimal shoes you have a direct connection to the ground you're walking on. You’ll probably notice that this makes you move about much more deliberately. Suddenly you're able to feel small differences in the height of the ground and experience different surfaces in different ways. A walk on the beach is quite different to a short trot to the train in the morning - and that's good!
Even if you’re surprised at first to find there's no foot bed, after a little while you’ll no longer miss it. In fact the opposite is true: When you walk more deliberately, feeling the ground under your feet, you're less likely to rush through the day. And of course even in minimal shoes you're still protected from sharp objects and dirt.
Image: ©jessie.b.photography | A kid walking deliberately along the shore wearing minimal shoes
5. You improve your posture
Your body is simply perfect by nature. Think of it as a spring, with your anatomy as a shock absorber. By wearing conventional shoes we permanently suppress this very natural function. The heel reduces the tension on the Achilles tendon, and your feet have a lot less energy available than nature intended for pushing up from the ground.
So if, in future, you avoid thick rubber soles and heels, you’ll automatically improve not only your gait, but also your posture. Your back becomes straighter and your pelvis, too, gradually returns to its natural position.
6. Your back feels better
By improving your posture you're doing your back a favour. And in today's world, who wouldn't want to do that? Thanks to increased numbers of desk jobs, more and more people complain about back pain or are already experiencing postural problems in their younger years. Imagine you're out and about in robust hiking boots, modern platform shoes or stilettos. What do all those shoes, which are completely different to each other, make you think of? Right, your back!
Heavy, thickly padded or high-heeled shoes are not exactly gentle on the back. With light-weight minimal shoes it’s the complete opposite. By strengthening the Achilles tendon and at the same time exercising the tendons in the sole of the foot, you take the pressure off your spine and experience back problems less frequently. Muscle tension decreases.
7. Your circulation is stimulated
When you walk or run in minimal shoes, you’re not only doing something for your posture and the health of your feet. Your blood circulation, too, improves, and you’re less prone to cold feet. That's because your feet are not restricted, and thanks to their close connection with the ground they are almost always getting a massage. Sounds good, doesn't it?
8. You improve your balance
Thanks to your new, healthy posture and natural gait, you improve your balance. Which isn't really surprising. If you’re consciously aware of every centimetre on the sole of your feet, you gradually learn to balance your body better. An easy way to try it out is using a slack line. First, try balancing along it in conventional sports shoes. Then try it with bare feet. The difference is quite considerable, isn't it?
Image: ©Sandra Chiolo | A person keeping their balance wearing minimal shoe Nebula
9. You live more actively
Buying a pair of minimal shoes doesn't automatically turn you in to a marathon runner. It's great if you're working towards such a special sporting goal. But even if you're not, you automatically become more active. Not only your feet and back, but also your calves, upper thighs and buttock muscles become stronger. This is of particular benefit if you often experience lower-back pain.
When the muscles in your buttocks and inner upper thighs become stronger and work together as they naturally should, it has a positive effect on the stomach muscles and the lower spine, meaning that over time back pain decreases.
10. You’ll always be one step ahead
In minimal shoes you’re not only a step ahead of others because you choose modern and innovative footwear that can improve your health. No, we mean it literally!
When running or walking in minimal shoes you’re demonstrably taking more steps than people in conventional shoes! Your pace length decreases, while the pace frequency increases. Which means that while on the move you're constantly exercising, you're burning more calories than before and in the evening you’ve clocked up a few more steps on your pedometer.
Run wild! Anna, Ran & the Wildlings