Transitioning to barefoot shoes is a process and will look different for every individual. 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 my 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 what you are used to.
- Consider a beginner barefoot shoe brand if you are uncomfortable in thin, minimalist soles.
- 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!
If you’re unable to adapt your walking and running to a barefoot style, barefoot shoes may not always be comfortable. 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
Andy Bryant Virtual Consultation
Ray McClanahan Virtual Consultation
Gait Happens Certified Practitioners
Healthy Feet Alliance Health Directory