The shape of most of the shoes we wear today does our feet no favours. Trainers, court shoes or whatever: wearing this kind of footwear leads to permanently weakened feet, non-functional arches and hallux valgus deformities. Rigid soles and cramped-together toes interfere with the perfect natural technology of the foot because over time, the design of almost all the shoes we tend to wear today forces the big toe to point inwards -- a condition called hallux valgus.
Did you know that our feet, each with their 33 joints and 26 bones, have more nerve endings than the palms of our hands? Each foot has something like 200,000 nerve endings, so our feet are sensory organs, and our body only functions properly if our feet also function as they were designed to do.
When our feet make good direct contact with the ground, this allows our body to move more naturally and feed back into the movement in which we're moving. In that sense then, the foot can rightly be considered a sensory organ which tells the brain about the kind of surface we're walking on.
That’s why we should aim to get our feet moving, keep them strong, flexible and functional, and make sure they don't become deformed. Go barefoot whenever possible over different walking surfaces provided the surface is safe, of course. When that's not possible, swap your non-functional footwear for the kind of shoes which allow you to walk as if you're barefoot.
Barefoot footwear mimics barefoot walking. This kind of footwear must meet a few fundamental standards:
- 6 mm thick sole or thinner
- enough room for the big toe and other toes
- no difference in the sole height between the toe and the heel
- no arch support
The thin sole makes us change the stereotype of walking
- we take shorter steps
- we don’t land on the heel
- we engage the big toe and other toes more
- we engage the arch and muscles of the whole foot more
In this way our pattern of walking gradually reverts to the way nature intended, and fallen arches and hallux valgus deformities are rectified. As a result, the whole body starts to function in the pain-free way it was naturally designed to, as was the case before humans started wearing shoes at all.