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:
- Add foot exercises such as these to your daily routine.
- Go completely barefoot often to naturally relearn functional movement
- Add texture to your indoor environments to stimulate the nerves in your feet
- Don’t be afraid to swap back and forth between your new barefoot shoes and your older supportive shoes.
- Consider a beginner barefoot shoe brand if you are uncomfortable in thin, minimalist soles. Insoles are also a good option.
- Remember it takes time for your body to adapt!
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 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:
- Walking 101 – Tips for walking well in barefoot shoes
- Whole Body Barefoot, by Katy Bowman
- Gait Happens My Foot Function Membership & Virtual Consultation
- NorthWest Foot & Ankle Virtual Consultation
- Gait Happens Certified Practitioners
- Healthy Feet Alliance Health Directory
- Whealth Free Foot Health Program