Years in conventional shoes weaken and deform the feet. Studies have shown that changing to functional footwear can have a dramatically positive effect on many things relating your feet and body. Consider wearing them for an hour per day to begin with & increase by 10% each week. For most the transition will be easy & be patient and the results will speak for themselves.
As each foot is unique with different types of problems, it is very useful to do a consultation with My Foot Function or check out their Fix your Feet workshop to transition in the best possible manner.
When we are so conditioned to something such as conventional footwear, we are drawn to the differences in functional footwear. What is normal is not necessarily natural.
The shoes stand out for a number of reasons, they are different in shape due to the fact they actually mimic the natural shape and function of the foot.
Although we do not believe this is so true, we will explain why functional footwear, although minimal, have similar prices to more traditional footwear.
Volume: Minimal shoes are produced in lower quantities, many even by hand. This is very different to factories producing thousands of pairs per hour. The more produced, the lower the single unit price is. This is the same for more industries.
Labour cost: Although we will not go down this rabbit hole, it's clear that many of the biggest brands do not have the best working environments for their workers or the factories producing them. Functional footwear brands respect the natural function of the foot as much as they respect the ethical responsibility upon people and planet.
Materials:Smaller quantity of materials purchased equal larger amounts spent. This is very similar to the first point.
There are many other factors to consider but the above cover some of the main points.
There are also shoes that are lower priced on this site compared to conventional shoes.
This seems to be the most popular question when considering switching to "barefoot" shoes.
The following points are to be considered:
Age: the older an individual, the longer the rehabilitation will take. It is only in rare cases people are not able to fully transform their feet to their healthier state.
Weight:more weight = more stress. Consider also evaluating your feet through a consultation or workshop with My Foot Function when switching and/or wearing your new shoes for shorter periods of time. Think slow & steady which will allow the body to adapt, we don't grow muscles very fast.
Activity level: Make sure to gradually increase your activity level and use of your new shoes. Start with low-impact activities such as standing and walking.
Foot health & type:If you are aware of your own foot type then this section should be easy for you. Many people are unaware or have been ill informed on their own feet. Perform the “wet tissue test” or our foot assessment at My Foot Function to get a clearer indication.
The term "barefoot shoes" often has different meaning depending on who you speak to. That being said we will explain what this means to us. We prefer the term "functional footwear".
Functional footwear is defined by primarily by the shape of the shoe so it does not compromising the natural shape & function of your feet. Secondarily it should be flat throughout & have no toe lift/spring at the front allowing the toes to function and interact fully with the surfaces you move on.
Thirdly, the thickness of the sole is typically thin. This allows for maximum sensory feedback to your central nervous system so that your motor-brain can effectively control movement. However, some may need a bit thicker soles for protection depending on their foot function and what substrates they move on.
Injuries are only common when not transitioning slowly, or without exercises to improve the function of your feet.
"The difference between walking on shifty sand or hard cement is comparable to the difference between walking barefoot or in shoes. “When you walk in shoes, your feet are pressing against a stiff substitute for the ground that makes the muscles in the feet have to work less than if you were barefoot,"
"While less work may seem like a good thing, it may actually leave your feet vulnerable to injury. Dr. Lieberman and other researchers have found evidence that people who predominantly walk or run in “minimal” shoes—shoes that mimic your bare feet by ditching arch support and a restrictive toe box, while incorporating a very thin, flexible sole—tend to have stronger, stiffer feet than those who wear traditional shoes."
Dr Lieberman, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
On this website we have included the brands that we trust and tick all of our boxes. My Foot Function is amongst the world leading clinics and educational institutions for functional foot practices, with a team from varying health sciences and years of experience we can confidently say that these shoes are the best choice.
All that is left to decide is: style and functional purpose!
The industry seems to be growing on a weekly basis with brands popping up & reaching out to us regularly.
We may add more brands in the future after they have gone through our testing.
Shape: Our primary criteria for all the brands are the shape. They all have their unique strengths but all of them are favourable for the foots natural shape and thereby function.
Customer care: Another area which is often overlooked is the customer care. We have worked with these brands for a number of years and sent a large amount of customers to these brands, the feedback has been very confidence inspiring.
As every foot is different, please be sure to never go against the the basic footbed test - its a simple analysis to see if your feet will fit appropriately within the shoe.
Insoles in general serve a purpose during initial rehabilitation and offloading injured tissues. This is for short term pain prevention and/or foot and lower limb deformities.
Insoles are unfortunately overprescribed without any information on post-rehabilitation procedures or proper shoe advice & individuals are expected to wear them for years or even a life time.
If you are sure that you need your insoles then yes, this is ideal. The fact that conventional shoes offer a poor shape for the foot means you will feel a sense of immediate relief when wearing a shoe offering more freedom for the toes. Consult with our professionals under 'Education' if you are unsure.
Insoles which are shaped to a conventional shoe will be narrower than your functional footwear. The problem you are now faced with is you may feel rubbing from the edge of the insole now that you foot has a wider shoe.
Again, if you are certain you need the insole then you may need it extended to fit correctly or remade completely.
Consult with the My Foot Function team if you are unsure if you still need these.
If you are new to these types of footwear then we will explain important two areas to consider:
1. If you have a slightly high arch then consider buying the shoes 0.5-1 size bigger, as your foots arch becomes more flexibly your foot size will increase over time.
2. If you have a flat foot then the opposite to the above will happen. Your foot will stiffen its arch through footwear and exercises & therefore you may go down in 0.5-1 size. This takes time: buy the shoe that is snug, but that offers ample room for your toes. You are much safer to buy a shoe that matches your foots size as it takes time to regain your arch & most likely you will make these considerations on your second pair.
We have been conditioned to wearing tightly fitted shoes, for that reason we become conditioned to this sensation as 'normal' or even comfortable. As you look down at the new shoes you may feel they look big coupled with the fact they feel big.
It is these 2 sensations of newness that leave use wondering if this is the right shoe for us, are they too big?
In our experience it takes just a matter of weeks for you to realise that these new sensations are positive. Like anything it takes some getting used to.
If you try wearing your old shoes just 3 months later you'll you'll never wear them again!
All of the brands listed here complete The Foot Project & My Foot Functions "safety check". Meaning that they all qualify for certain qualities that are crucial for healthy functioning feet.
1. Enough room for toes to splay & function, this is more complicated then just going wide, as many companies do. This is again why these brands stand out from the rest.
2. Flatness of the sole made from quality rubber, with durability and longevity for a shoe that will give you plenty of time in before replacing.
3. No toe-spring & flexible materials. The brands offer a shoe that is soft & supple enough for the foot to act as nature intended.
A shoe should:
a. protect the foot from the temperature, sharp items & other environmental hazards that will cause injury to the foot
b. aid the foot for traction on surfaces that are slippery.
c. mimic the foots natural movement & function.