Barefoot and performance: Take your shoes off and discover your full potential
How fast can you run? And how fast would you be able to run if someone cramped you into a corset and tight skirt? Just imagine it – yes, ladies and gentlemen. Your feet feel the same in classic footwear. They’re not cut out for a narrow design, tip and thick sole, no less a heel.
Free them and let the magic begin. We’ll be discussing this in more detail in the following article.
There’s more to sneakers than meets the eye. Prepare for maximum performance with barefoot sneakers.
Effective power transmission
The human body is like a perfect machine driven by a number of impulses.
When your feet are rebounding off the ground, you need the momentum to travel to the right place. You need to prevent a part or all of that power from getting lost on the way. You can only attain effective transmission when the individual parts of the “machine” are properly aligned. And in this lies the problem.
Normal shoes cramp your feet into an unnatural shape. As a result, the individual segments of the foot and whole lower limb aren’t correctly aligned. They’re not on a single axis – like they would be if we were walking barefoot.
A part of the rebound momentum is thus lost halfway.
Centered joints: What are they and why don’t you have them?
Joints are the connecting points that link together the individual components of this machine that we call the body. When the components are properly aligned, we say that the joints are “centered”. This means that the axis of one component is linked to the axis of another. In this situation, power is transmitted in an ideal manner and things run like a well-greased machine.
The whole human body works like this.
When the joint is decentered and segments aren’t aligned, problems arise:
- Joints are subject to excessive wear.
- In the given segment, the brain has to establish uneven tension to stabilize the joint, harness power and transmit it to the other segment.
- The whole segment is difficult to coordinate because it’s unstable and prone to injury.
- The segment isn’t prepared to react to strain. The tension in it is either too low, which takes time for the muscles to react to the change, or too high, making the muscles tired and preventing them from fully performing. A minor trip-up is all it takes for an injury to occur.
This is what your foot looks like. On the left you can see a foot with centered joints; on the right is a foot cramped by a classic shoe:
Good rebound is essential
On your mark, get set… go! How fast can you break into a sprint? Much faster if you’re rebounding off a large and stable surface. The fact that a classic shoe won’t provide you with this surface is likely no surprise. You need to free up your toes so they can take part in the rebound.
Free your feet for proper rebound.
Balance begins in the feet
Did you know that balance comes from the feet? The moment you stand on free, unfettered feet, you’ll be standing on a larger surface and using your toes to hold to the ground. You’re stable.
Which foot would you guess is more stable?
The information that the brain processes is also important. Many studies claim that our brain gains almost 80 % of its information about balance from the feet. They let the brain know what terrain you’re in, how much it has to toughen the muscles and where there’s a threat of injury.
When you put on shoes with a thick sole, you’re depriving yourself of this information. The brain suddenly doesn’t know what terrain it’s in and what’s happening to the foot. What’s worse is that it quickly becomes accustomed to this “blindness” and stops paying attention to information from the feet completely.
Ve zkratce: A thick sole sends inaccurate information to the brain, creating the risk of inadequte reaction and injury in an unexpected situation.
Breathe in – breathe out
Ever been out of breath from running? You might be surprised to learn that the wrong shoes and an unnatural posture might be the reason for it.
What do your shoes have to do with breathing? We’ll explain.
We’ve already shown how one part of the body is aligned with the other. This applies to the whole body. The moment you deform one segment, it’ll appear in your posture. When the given segment is aligned, the rest of the body can also come into alignment.
A healthy and natural stride will cause you to square your shoulders, straighten your back and push out your chest. Suddenly you’ll be breathing better – and running with ease.
Feel like giving healthy barefoot running a try? Read our older articles:
- Barefoot running: People have been running for two million years. Only the last few have are being ruined by shoes – Why should we learn to run barefoot?
- How to start running barefoot – A guide for runners and non-runners alike
Reading them will take a few minutes, but they might change your life.
But be warned – barefoot shoes alone won’t teach you to have a healthy stride, they’ll just give you the space for it. But healthy walking can be learned: Download the Step by Step to a Healthy Stride e-book by physiotherapist Lukáš Klimpera.
Barefoot shoes – more than meets the eye
If you want to get maximum performance from your body, give it space. Take off your constricting sneakers and put on real barefoot shoes.
Barefoot shoes aren’t all the same. We often see the “barefoot” label on shoes that have a thin sole but a classic shape. You can probably already guess that these are the wrong way to go. You’d be feeling the ground beneath you, but you wouldn’t be giving your foot the freedom to react to it and move naturally.
Reading tip: What are barefoot shoes? And are they right for YOU?
The right barefoot shoes give your feet space.
That’s why you should look for these additional specs:
- Enough space for your toes. You should fit in them even when you spread your toes apart.
- A cushioned and flexible sole. A thin sole isn’t enough – it has to completely adapt to your movement.
- Flexible material. The whole shoe should move according to your feet.
- A light shoe. A proper barefoot shoe will put the same strain on you as walking barefoot – i.e. none at all. Look for the lightest option.
Healthy barefoot shoes (or walking without shoes) will literally liberate your feet. They’ll finally be in a position that’s natural to them. Nothing is preventing the toes, including the little toe, from moving; the foot adapts to the terrain and easily absorbs shock. There is no better shock-absorbing mechanism than the foot itself – but it has to have the space to function properly.
Choose the pair that’s right for you and look forward to performance
Free your feet and let the magic begin. Put on real barefoot shoes designed by physiotherapists.