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Barefoot basics

What is barefoot?

We use word barefoot mainly as short term of "barefoot footwear". You can also see terms barefoot shoes, barefoot boots, barefoots, etc.

Barefoot footwear has certain characteristics (see below) that are generally accepted by manufacturers, retailers, and customers. Interestingly, however, there is a wide variety of footwear referred to as barefoot because the term barefoot as such is nowhere defined by official standards or legislation.

What are the key features of barefoot shoes?

If we are talking about 100% barefoot shoes, they should have an anatomically shaped toe box, a thin and flat flexible sole in all directions, and an overall low weight.

How do I recognise barefoot shoes?

Barefoot shoes can be recognised by looking at them and trying them on. Firstly, they have a thin sole, about 3mm thick, with no raised heel or toe, yet they are flexible in all directions and easy to roll up. You can barely feel them on your feet, they don't restrict your natural movement, and they fit the heel but leave plenty of room in the toe box for stretching and active toe engagement.

Why are barefoot shoes so wide?

So that the shoes don't pinch your foot and deform your toes, which need to be spread wide in the shoe (postural stability, active walking). Read more about why anatomically shaped shoes should fit your foot and not the other way around in this article.

Hard or soft shoes?

Please don’t be fooled by conventional shoe manufacturers that you need a sturdy shoe to support your foot. In such shoes, you cannot naturally unwind your foot from the ground when walking. It can lead to unhealthy development of movement patterns and loss of the ability to respond flexibly to the surface texture.

Of course, this does not apply to people with diagnosed conditions like hypermobility. These people need reinforcement in the shoe, such as areinforced heel counter. Otherwise, they won't be able to keep their foot at the correct angle. If in doubt, consult a medical professional.

What makes a thin sole better?

The thin sole allows better information transfer between the foot and the surface. It is usually around 3 mm, which is enough to maintain protection from punctures, but still allows the perception of stimuli, actively engages the locomotor system, and helps thermoregulation. You can read more in the article here.

Why don't barefoot shoes have a raised heel?

Barefoot shoes have a perfectly flat sole, with no raised heel or toe box, so the centre of gravity is not shifted forwards or backwards. Any irregularity can cause significant damage to the musculoskeletal system. You can read more about this here.

Is walking barefoot healthy?

As we write in our article, learning walking habits completely barefoot (even without socks) is crucial for the healthy development of a children's feet. Barefoot walking has positive health benefits in terms of strengthening the foot, so it is recommended to practise the barefoot walk as much as possible at an early age.

On the other hand, it is important not to hurt your foot. Shoes have a protective function, so you shouldn't go completely barefoot if there is a risk of cuts, scratches, abrasions, or even burns or hypothermia.

How to choose barefoot shoes

What shoe size to purchase?

Of course, this depends on the size of your foot, which we recommend you measure correctly before choosing shoes. Adults also experience enlargement of the foot during life, e.g. pregnancy, old age, etc.

Next, compare your measurements with the size chart for the brand you have chosen. Individual manufacturers may differ slightly in their numbering, so it is certainly not true that one number will fit you across the whole product range.

How to measure the foot accurately?

We have dedicated an entire article to this topic, which we recommend you read carefully.

How much extra room to leave in the shoe?

For shoes with a closed toe, at least 3-4 mm, or the shoe will be too small, and there will be no room to unwind the step. So never buy shoes where your toes touch the shoe tip. A usual addition size number for adults is 4-5 mm (less for sandals), and for running shoes, about 1 cm.

For children, the growth of the foot should be taken into account, so buy shoes with about 10-12 mm of extra room. For beginner walkers, sandals or shoes with an open toe less, about 5-7 mm. The width of the shoe should not be narrower than the foot, so extra room of 2-3 mm is sufficient. However, in order to prevent the heel from being deflected in an undesirable direction, the heel part should fit the heel and not be too loose.

How to choose between two sizes?

You have measured the length of your foot (including an additional size number) and found that you fall between two sizes. It is generally advisable to choose the larger size, as this will give you plenty of room for growth and active footwork. On the other hand, it won't come at the cost of tripping over or a loose fit.

When to purchase shoes for your child?

As we write in a separate article, the appropriate time depends on your child's walking ability. We recommend putting the first shoes on when the child spends most of his active time walking. By then, he should be learning to move completely barefoot (even without socks). Let your children walk barefoot as long as the environment is safe for their feet (e.g. at home, on carpets).

What first shoes to choose?

For home use, we recommend soft soles, which are the closest to barefoot shoes in terms of flexibility and softness. For outdoor walking, use barefoot shoes for the little ones.

Are barefoot shoes suitable for me?

If you don’t have a serious health problem that would prohibit their use, then it’s safe to say that the shoes are suitable for you. Barefoot shoes are appropriate for children as their first shoes (and all the following ones). Women and men of all ages can switch to them at any time. So if you’re thinking about your health, responsible living, or natural development, reach for them.

Where can I find sturdy barefoot shoes?

Barefoot shoes are characterised by their softness and flexibility, but for users who need more ankle support, we offer barefoot shoes with areinforced heel counter. When filtering the Heel counter, you can identify them thanks to the Stiff label.

Should I buy second-hand shoes?

There are two opinions on this. While we understand that buying shoes from a second-hand store saves money and the environment, on the other hand, we cannot recommend it from a health point of view. Unfortunately, you don’t know if the previous user has suffered from contagious skin disease and also if they have worn the shoes in a way that is not suitable for your foot. If you inherit shoes, make sure they are minimally used and in perfect condition. Otherwise, we recommend investing in new ones.

How to care for shoes?

Taking care of your shoes is the key to prolonging their lifespan. There are four basic rules - dry, clean, nourish, and protect. We have explained it in this article.

Types of barefoot shoes

What are the shoes made of?

It varies from shoe to shoe, the sole is usually rubber, and the upper part is leather or textile. The materials used are always listed in the product details. They can be found in the description or in the form of pictograms.

Are the barefoot shoes vegan-friendly?

Absolutely yes, we have many in our range, just tick the vegan box in the product filter, and they will be filtered for you.

Are there barefoot shoes suitable for running?

Yes, many athletic barefoot trainers are suitable for running, but you must remember that running in barefoot shoes is different from running in traditional cushioned shoes that absorb shock. Study barefoot running technique carefully before running in barefoot shoes.

Can I wear barefoot shoes in the city?

You will find cobblestones, asphalt, and many other hard surfaces in the city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t walk on them in barefoot shoes. You just won’t be able to stomp like an elephant, run somewhere at the last minute, in short, move in a reckless style. In contrast, barefoot shoes will lead you to a natural and fully conscious movement on any surface. To be sure, however, check our article to ensure you know the basics of proper walking.

Can barefoot shoes be worn as formal shoes?

We don't see this as a problem. On the contrary, you will find many elegant formal barefoot shoes for men and women in our range, which will keep your feet comfortable on all kinds of festive occasions. Ladies, for example, can find inspiration in this article.