How To Transition To Barefoot Shoes?

A person visible from the waist down is standing by a brick wall wear barefoot shoes with the text

Transitioning to barefoot shoes is a process and will look different for every individual, but my #1 piece of advice is to start wearing barefoot shoes for only short periods at a time. See how you feel, and then slowly increase that time over weeks & months.

Zero drop shoes with a natural toe box make it possible to move naturally, but many people have weak intrinsic foot muscles and learned unnatural gait patterns (heavy heel striking for example) that carry over even in barefoot shoes. So you’ll have the best results if you consider other ways to improve your overall gait and foot health in addition to wearing better shoes.

Here are additional tips for transitioning to barefoot shoes:

It might take several weeks, months or years for your muscles, ligament, nerves, and skin to adapt to the new stresses of being in barefoot shoes. This is why going slowly and carefully is often the best path. Give your brain and your body time to relearn how to be comfortable barefoot, and remember to walk before you run!

Barefoot shoes may not always feel comfortable as you walk and move around. This is ok – you can alternate between barefoot shoes and your old shoes as your body adapts. If you’re just looking for toe space, without the barefoot sole- check out this list.

If you are already used to being barefoot often and are physically fit, you may be able to switch over immediately. Biggest take away: Everyone is different. Don’t push yourself past pain and listen to your body if it’s telling you to slow down!

Check out the FAQ on How To Pick Your First Pair of Barefoot Shoes to get started.

List of Resources/Professionals Who Can Help the Transition Process:

*For the entire searchable FAQ list, visit Barefoot Shoes FAQ

*Disclosure – Anya’s Reviews is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

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6 thoughts on “How To Transition To Barefoot Shoes?”

  1. thank you Anya! thank you!!
    I’m a British barefoot shoe wearer.
    Our daughter in Canada has been following you for years and is a big advocate of barefoot shoes. I have struggled with metatarsalitis and severe foot pain for 10 years, trying orthotics and ending up wearing only Redwings workmen’s steel toe-cap boots as the toe box was wide and high.
    On your site I saw a link to RED shoes, custom made by Emily Ruth Davey in Wales.
    Her shoes ( and Shandals!) have transformed my life and health!
    My foot pain has almost gone away now, as my wide feet have been able to spread out and my toes have lots of wiggle room. I am more stable and secure on my feet and I can walk without pain, which directly contributes to better health and fitness.
    Custom shoes are expensive, but I no longer use orthotics and when I consider my improved walking and general health, (particularly important as I have diabetes), then the cost is not important. One pair of wonderful shoes worn every day is better than buying lots in the endless quest for comfort.
    I am so grateful to you for your excellent site and good help and advice.
    Keep on advocating for foot health!

  2. So, practically speaking, one would wear the minimalist foot ware for 5, then 10 then 30 minutes, etc. BUT on those same days use their regular orthotics-shoes? And ultimately the goal is to replace all the orthotic walking time with minimalist foot ware walking time?

    1. Yes, that’s one way of doing it. Simply wear whatever you’re used to wearing the rest of time. You can see how it goes without pushing yourself toward the goal of no orthotics ever. It could take a while! Best to let your feet guide you. You want them to change, but you don’t want to overdo it.

  3. Hi Anya,

    Your blog is so inspiring! I have had a lot of musculoskeletal stuff/HSD. I also have a very sensitive nervous system, which seems to be part of the package. This is kind of weird, but my two pairs of vivos are hard to wear because they seem to prevent me from sleeping. I feel really jittery and overstimulated at night whenever I’ve worn them during the day. I am totally fine with thicker soles like Altras, though.

    It sounds so weird, but I’ve tested this out a bunch of times, always with the same result when I walk for more than ~.5 mile (even on mostly grass). Have you ever heard of this happening/do you have any tips?

    Thanks so much,

    Clare

    1. I have to say that this is a first for me, but if you’re seeing a pattern and know that thicker soles help you feel better then go with it! You might try desensitizing your feet with smaller amounts of texture exposure. For example, wiping your feet on carpet or standing on gravel. You might need to play around with how much exposure you can tolerate so you don’t have negative effects later, but in the long run it could help calm your nervous system response down.

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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