How Barefoot Shoes Improved My Posture And Strenghtened My Feet

Today I want to talk about how my barefoot sandals changed how I walk, improved my posture and strengthened my feet. After walking in them for the entire summer I'm absolutely addicted, and have neglected all the other shoes I own.
Before I start, I want to say that if you feel put-off by the, well, raw and organic look of the sandals I made, there are stylish options out there like these:

I haven't tried High Feels myself but have heard good things about them, but it was their creator Yamina who inspired my to try barefoot shoes (and I'd love to try High Feels, in case you are reading this Yamina). It was this video where Yamina talks about walking gracefully:

Oh and she does walk so gracefully. To those of you who don't speak German, here are her tips:

* Know where you are walking towards. I know this trick from theatre workshops, basically if you know exactly which spot you are walking towards, you automatically walk more harmonously. And funnily people get out of your way in crowded places.
* Lean slightly forward at the ankles and allow yourself fall to forward. So you push yourself off with the back foot and place the foot that swings forward falls under your body (and not in front of your body). (Better explanation here).
* Wear shoes that allow such ease of movement and don't force you to walk with a heel-strike. Barefoot shoes allow the foot to move the way it's supposed to. Yamina developed High Feels which are a chic version of traditional barefoot sandals.

After this video I was lusting after High Feels, and remembered that my husband had made himself a pair of Huarache barefoot sandals a couple of years back, and we still had the supplies in the closet. This is basically a type of sandal which the Huarache tribe has been using for centuries, and are popular among barefoot runners. There are tons of instructional videos and articles on how to make such barefoot sandals, and making such sandals is easy as long as you have a good tool to cut the leather. A good vegan alternative to leather is vibram soles.

After the first few days of wearing Huarache sandals I had tired muscles in my feet. I read that in regular shoes out feet are completely passive and don't do anything, and this additionally places strain on the knees and other joints. With barefoot walking your foot is active and adapts to the terrain you are walking on. After the first few days my foot muscles got much stronger and walking is an amazing new sensation. I love feeling the ground I'm walking on. The sandals also changed the way I walk and stand. First of all they force me to stand straight and activate my abdominal muscles and position my pelvis correctly. Since I have a pretty pronounced anterior pelvic tilt that I have been trying to fix since years, this is really amazing. I also learned to place my feet correctly on the ground. And to walk correctly, with the stride longer towards the back, like in Yamina's video.

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The amazing thing about barefoot sandals is that they give you immediate feedback if your stride is wrong, if you are doing anything unnatural with your feet or legs. This happened to me several times, the weirdest one was when I realised that I wore a hole in the sole of my right shoes, below the ball of my foot -- the left sole didn't show any wear at this spot, so I was perplexed. I couldn't pinpoint the cause, and finally someone on a forum told me that I was probably twisting my foot slightly every time I placed it on the ground. Bingo! I trained myself not to do that, and probably saved myself tons of joint troubles.

So probably you want to know how practical and comfortable the shoes are. After the initial adjustment period they are really comfortable. You might also want to experiment with the many ways of tying the shoes to find the one that is the most comfortable for your foot shape. My soles are 3mm thick and I can walk comfortably on sharp gravel, asphalt, grass and dirt roads. They soles mould to the foot, and then you feel as if were wearing almost nothing at all.

After the initial adjustment period I can walk in them without getting my feet dirty. I have a job where I dress for function and comfort, so I can wear them at work. So far I have only gotten compliments for them, even when I combined them with sun dresses. I went for nude coloured straps because they blend in with my skin, giving me a barefooted look. In my head I imagine it looks a little bit like Bardot in And God Created Woman. I wish.

I have worn the Huarache sandals almost every day since I made them in the spring, and if I happen to war other (comfortable) shoes for some reason I always miss the feeling of the solid ground beneath me and the springy step that I have in the barefoot sandals. I still haven't figured out my cold season strategy yet (closed barefoot shoes still have thin soles not really appropriate for very cold temperatures). 

Have any of you worn barefoot shoes? Or simply love walking barefoot whenever you can? (It's "in" and it's called earthing, apparently). Let me know!

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