Did you know that the human being is designed for to walk without shoes? In fact, experts recommend walking on clean foot for around half an hour a day. Since our feet are the main sustenance of our body, we must pay greater attention to their care and the best way to do this is to use good quality footwear that does not pose an obstacle for the 25 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons that make them up.
In this sense, according to the Spanish Association of Physiotherapists (@aephysius), minimalist sneakers is becoming fashionable among runners for its benefits when it comes to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance. They are also known as Barefoot which is an English term that means ‘barefoot’.
But what is it exactly? We are talking about a shoe that minimally interferes with natural foot movements not having the artificial support of conventional shoes. When choosing it, the lighter the better.
In addition, must be flexible with the aim of letting the foot move and flex freely. You also have to enjoy a lot of stability and comfort. The slope of the sole must be almost flat (that is, the difference between the heel and the toes must be minimal). On the other hand they have to have a great width in the toe so that the fingers are not trapped. In addition to having a great sensitivity with respect to the ground.
Why wear minimalist footwear?
We have been wearing shoes for a few thousand years. The first shoes were minimalist because they were leather soles tied with strings with the sole function of covering the foot. For its part, a few dozen years ago cushioned footwear was born. Although, a priori, footwear that has a shock absorber may be more comfortable, it is not so healthy for the health of our feet. What’s more, high heel shoes shorten the Achilles tendon, the strongest and thickest of the body, and carry the weight of the body towards the fingers causing a load to the pelvis, lower back and neck.
Advantages of using minimalist footwear
- Less energy expenditure as it is lighter
- Less chafing, friction and pressure
- Greater strengthening of the foot and leg
- Unlike shoes with shock absorbers, as they do not have as many insoles or reinforcements, it is easier not to turn the foot in the event of a setback and avoid injuries.
However, adapting to minimalist footwear is difficult. The first time you wear a pair of shoes without shock absorbers, it can feel like your body is bouncing. This has an explanation. As we are used from childhood to wear conventional shoes with heels, as a shock absorber, we learn to walk the wrong way and we need a period of adaptation.
How to integrate this type of footwear into your routine
As it is a special shoe, or at least our feet are not used to it, experts recommend learning how to use them before getting the most out of them. Namely, you must overcome an adaptation period to take advantage of all its advantages.
In this sense, the main objective is to ensure that the parts of the body that participate in the tread become stronger and acquire a different «education» to the one they already had. For example, you should start step on the front of the foot instead of hoofs the ball clear. A deeply ingrained habit that can be very difficult to correct, especially if you are already an experienced runner.
But do not suffer, because this is a process that you must go progressively overcoming. To get your feet used to this new shoe, you can start dividing your training into two sets: the first with your usual sneakers and the second with minimalist footwear. Of course, the first weeks try that this last turn does not equal in intensity to the first.
In addition, as we have already seen, it is very important that the muscles of your feet are strengthened. You can work on it from home walking barefoot whenever possible, doing stretches that focus primarily on calves and hamstrings and, of course, choosing the right footwear when you leave home for work, dinner with friends or shopping.
Not all are advantages
- By having greater sensitivity to the touch of the ground, in the land with stones or not very firm more discomfort is felt in the foot.
- Until you adapt to its correct use, there is more chance of blisters and injuries.
- If you do not meet that adaptation period, it is very likely that your muscles suffer some overload.
- Also, if you are used to run at high speed, minimalist footwear may not be a good ally, as the impact against the asphalt is greater and your feet will be more unprotected. Therefore, in this specific case, it may be best to recover your old shoes.