We Debunk the 10 Biggest Barefoot Myths!
Boo, boo, barefoot! Your loved ones, unknown „experts“ in internet discussions, and other more or less knowledgeable people might try to scare you. The truth may be subjective, so we will at least show you what we believe and let you make up your own picture…
We are shoe retailers, but we have been wearing barefoot shoes for a long time (including our children), so we have experienced it first hand. A lot of models have passed through our hands (or feet) over the years, and we have personal experiences to share.
We are not doctors (and therefore not authorized to give medical advice), but we work closely with these professionals. We consult with physiotherapists, podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, … And so do the shoe manufacturers, so we don’t build castles in the air, as some might claim.
In general, we agree that unless a person suffers from a serious diagnosis (which could make barefoot shoes harmful), then the health consequences of wearing barefoot shoes are positive! In our statements, we interpret not only our own experience but also the findings of modern medicine, which we have accepted as our own.
If you want to read more about natural body functioning, the influence of footwear on our health, and the early prevention of possible problems, we have prepared a section of Barefoot Academy full of expert articles. Now, however, to the barefoot myths that spread throughout our society…
Myths about barefoot shoes
1. Barefoot shoes make my feet hurt! Wearing them in the city is hell!
The real hell is wearing socks in sandals - a Czech fashion disaster. Yes, nature does provide more shock absorption when stepping, but if you adapt your walk and move in a healthy way (for example, actively use your toes and don’t stomp on your heels like an elephant), you can handle any surface, including the hardest ones, without pain.
On the other hand, if there's one thing that hurts, it's crammed toes in shoes, long standing on heels, ruined knees, ankles, hips, and other consequences of improper footwear. There is no problem with barefoot shoes, and you have to know how to walk correctly, which requires (at least at the beginning) some awareness and concentration.
2. Barefoot shoes are expensive!
That’s relative, but there’s a reason why you’ll find a higher price tag on them than on shoes from the big chains. Firstly, they are often handmade in small batches and under ethical conditions. So we pay for research, development, innovation, and sustainability.
Secondly, they are healthier shoes, developed in collaboration with experts. So we are paying to avoid spoiling our health and having to spend much more later in life to cure ailments caused by wearing the wrong shoes. You will also be happy to pay extra for a mattress for your bed or an office chair, so it does not destroy your body when you spend so much time in it.
Thirdly, good-quality shoes will last you several seasons (especially since you tend to take care of more expensive shoes). So, if you compare the price of one expensive pair of shoes that will last, let's say, three years to the price of three cheap shoes that you will have to replace after a year of wearing (and harm the environment by throwing them away), do you still find them that expensive?
In addition, there also exist cheap barefoot shoes. For example, Anatomic sneakers can be purchased from 27 €. They are great for getting started with barefoot shoes.
3. It is cold in barefoot shoes!
Why do you get cold feet in any shoes? Probably because you don’t have enough blood supply… If the whole body (and the foot) is actively working, it naturally warms up. Regular shoes don’t offer your toes much room to work, so you need extra thick socks. In barefoot shoes, thin insoles are sufficient for winter. But if you’re only planning on standing somewhere, you’ll be cold.
4. Barefoot shoes look ridiculous!
If impressing others is more important to you than taking care of your health, good luck… We prefer shoes with a wide toe box in which the toes have plenty of room to function, rather than having them squashed together in tight modern shoes. Also, you won’t reshape your chest by wearing a corset regularly just because somebody likes it.
By the way, don’t always look at others and set an example that healthy footwear is cool! Volvo may not attract attention like Porsche, but when it comes to safety, people are more likely to reach for it. Plus, our range includes hundreds of stylish shoes, so everyone can choose and not worry about going out looking like a duck. Sneakers, ballerinas, boots… just take your pick!
5. Barefoot shoes are the ones with thin soles!
Yes, however, as mathematicians would say - this is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. We should add that the sole of barefoot shoes shouldn't only be thin but also flexible in all directions. The footwear shouldn't have a raised heel or toe (so-called zero drop) and should provide enough space, especially for active toe work. A shoe with all these features can be described as a barefoot shoe.
6. The soles of barefoot shoes are slippery and they don’t last long!
Thin soles are not synonymous with easily destroyed or poor quality. For this point, a lot depends on the manufacturer, but the development of barefoot shoes, in general, has made a considerable step forward. When you buy barefoot shoes with a patterned sole made of quality materials, you won’t just wear them through or slip in them due to good traction. Unless, of course, you’re running on ice or walking on sandpaper.
7. Barefoot shoes are not suitable for sport or hiking!
Athletic shoes with cushioned soles absorb the impact, and ankle boots fix the ankle. So in translation, your foot is not actively working and thus weakening, which we're sure you don’t want in the long run.
On the contrary, in barefoot shoes, the foot perceives the terrain better and can adapt to it. The foot gain strength through active foot and toe work. When running, barefoot shoes allow the toes to work to their full potential and give the rebound strength and dynamics, providing stability. So if you know how to move correctly, barefoot shoes can be suitable for any occasion and terrain.
When descending hills or mountains, you will even appreciate the barefoot shoes because, in them, you tread more considerately, thus not putting as much pressure on your feet and knees as when you stomp recklessly downhill in classical hiking boots.
8. If my feet are flat, I can’t wear barefoot shoes!
And that’s what your orthopedist told you? Maybe he prescribed special shoe inserts that only passively support the foot arch instead of actively exercising it. Try discussing with him whether it would be better to train your foot by healthy barefoot walking instead of relying on some crutches for life.
We advocate the principle of strengthening rather than supporting, but of course, it depends on the individual case. In addition, any special insoles will benefit your foot better in a broad and flexible shoe than in a narrow and rigid one.
9. Barefoot shoes will cure me!
If only we could put on magic shoes, poof, we’d be miraculously healthy! But it doesn’t work that way. Barefoot shoes only represent a partial removal of the barrier we have put between ourselves and the ground in the form of conventional shoes.
When constraints disappear, we open up room for improvement. But this requires a bit of effort, for example, to improve the correct walking technique. The reward may (or may not) be improved health. However, it will not come by itself.
In addition to conscious and active use of the foot when walking, you can also support the natural development of the foot with various exercises, so let’s get your toes moving.
10. Barefoot shoes are good for everyone!
We stand by the fact that for most people barefoot shoes are an improvement over conventional footwear. We recommend them as first shoes (and all the following), especially to children, so they don’t form bad habits in life, but equally to women or men of any age, as it’s never too late to start taking more care of your health.
However, as mentioned in the introduction, there are patients for whom the special shoe has a corrective function. For such people, wearing barefoot shoes is inappropriate due to their medical history. So if you are one of these cases (or just unsure), we recommend you consult your doctor about switching to barefoot shoes.