Why Barefoot Shoes Aren’t The Full Solution – with Katy Bowman

*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.

Katy Bowman is a biomechanist, prolific author, speaker, and founder of Nutritious Movement. Her best selling books include Whole Body Barefoot (my personal favorite) and her newest book Rethink Your Position. Her work was very influential to me during my darkest times of injury and pain, and I think you’ll love it too.

Katy was one of the earliest proponents of minimalist footwear as a viable solution to many of the foot woes we experience in the developed world. But as this idea has taken hold (and rightly so!) there’s a part of the conversation that often gets left out. And that is the shoes are actually not the entire solution. It’s the foot inside the shoe that needs to be capable of supporting our daily lives.

We’ve got this mindset that the shoe is all I need … [but] it’s foot strength you’re after, not footwear. It’s a shift in our minds to think ‘Why am I doing this in the first place?’ You’re doing it for feet that are strong enough for your body.”

And that means that when pain arises we should think not only about our footwear, but also about how we are using/not using our feet and what we can do to better prepare them for the life we want to lead.

You’ll listen to the following topics in this interview:

  • The nuance that is missing from the barefoot shoe conversation.
  • When to reconsider your footwear & your movement habits.
  • Why the perfect pair of shoes doesn’t exist.
  • Why it’s harder to change when you feel good.
  • Being in communication with your body is more important than doing it “right”.
  • Foot exercises are not just from the ankle down.
  • Why many injuries have similar root causes, even when they look different.
  • The steps to better foot & body health are often the same for different people, regardless of your individual anatomy.
  • Be protective of your ability to move and walk. Hold it sacred and prioritize it.

Katy challenged some of my own closely held stories about how my body works and reframed it with a biomechanical lens.

What you’re doing with your body all the time creates loads, the shoes you’re wearing creates loads and the more you can understand that the more you can understand when and where to add minimal shoes, where and when to add exercises, when to pick a more rigid minimal shoe or a different type of minimal shoe.”

I can’t wait to hear what you think and what a-ha moments you had listening to this conversation!

Did this interview raise more questions for you? Are you ready to start digging into these supplemental foot and body exercises to future proof yourself? Here are a few resources to get you on your way.

Additional Resources For Your Happy Feet Journey:

Connect With Katy:

A headshot of Katy Bowman, biomechanist, author, and early proponent of minimalist shoes

Katy Bowman is a biomechanist and bestselling author of 10 books, including Move Your DNAGrow Wild, Whole Body Barefoot, and her latest Rethink Your Position. Named one of Maria Shriver’s “Architects of Change,” Bowman is changing the way we move and think about our need for movement. Find out more at NutritiousMovement.com.

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16 thoughts on “Why Barefoot Shoes Aren’t The Full Solution – with Katy Bowman”

  1. Hi Anya,
    I have tried to reach out to you many times but thought I would try one last time. Great interview with Katy. Twenty years of research and working with the world’s most knowledgeable evidenced based experts has taught me so much. Our education vault on issues such as muscle sequencing , gait patterns and foot strengthen is full and will help you and Katy to answer some of the tough questions that have. Relative to foot strengthen we have the Holy Grail in the form of a 2001 peer study that concluded that our insoles dramatically reduce plantar surface area or flat feet and over pronation in 100% of participants by strengthening and conditioning the 40 intrinsic foot muscles with every step taken. Your foot exercises are great complimentary routine’s but you will already be training a strong and foot functional foot. Your foot to shoulder posterior chain will be both robust and symmetrical in firing. My next twenty- two years have been spent learning from global experts a deeper understanding of the role that enhanced proprioceptive stimulus has on all aspects of gait, balance, performance, posture, alignment, foot strike patterns, ground contact phase, footwear etc. I am sure that the research will surprise you. I would love to work you if you are interested.

  2. Thank you for this! I found her a few years ago when I realized that as I was getting older, I needed to think more about moving, but I was never going to be an “exercise” person. Her way of thinking about moving throughout the day has been game changing. I found you when trying to figure out how to try minimal shoes from the middle of nowhere. You’ve both been really helpful, and it was great to hear you together. Her point about low loads for long periods is a helpful one. Thanks!

  3. Just a quick question. Do you have any outdoor shoes or indoor shoes? They have a 100% all leather bottom sole. I am looking for a shoe that I can wear indoors that will slide and scoot along my carpet without grabbing. Appreciate all your shoes for high volume feet. They will work perfect for me, but I’m just looking for something that will not make me trip when I try to move along the carpet. I look forward to your response. Dana.

  4. Hi Anya, thanks so much for sharing the video conversation in between you and Katie Bowman. Several helpful suggestions were made, which I hope to follow through with. You mentioned the importance of focus on both core strength and the short foot exercise; however, I am not familiar with the “short foot” exercise. Would you kindly explain, or point me in the right direction?

  5. I have a narrow to medium foot and want a slip on casual shoe that looks cute but also is healthy for my foot. do you have a recommendation? I have looked at Lems Drifter but I am a size 12 and I am wondering if that shoe will be too wide…

  6. What shoe/s would you recommend wearing temporarily that are supportive while healing from a mid-foot fracture that is still painful months later?

    1. Birkenstocks are good for that. Also Lems Shoes, in particular the Primal Zen would be another good option. The insole that comes with is not supportive but you could easily replace with your own. Superfeet is a brand I used when I was recovering from a foot injury.

  7. Do you have any sandal recommendations for someone going through the transitional
    stage? I have found Altra Riveria has helped me but would like a Sandel. I am dealing with plantar fascilitis with low arch and volume.

    Appreciate all you do!

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Picture of 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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