We would like to focus on some of the more common issues we hear from our customers and give some information about how minimalist shoes can help ease pain, increase circulation, prevent or help bunions, and much more. Read on to find out more about the myriad of foot health benefits provided by minimalist footwear.
The evolution of shoes throughout mankind’s history is simply fascinating. The earliest records of footwear date back to Mesopotamia around 900-600 BCE. Footwear is as unique as the feet they serve; from the earliest crude leather models to the mid 1800’s, where shoes were made exactly the same for the left and right foot, to today’s modern footwear, some of which looks more like a spaceship than a shoe you can wear!
One common vein runs throughout the history of footwear: humans have endlessly different types of feet and therefore endlessly different needs to be addressed when finding a comfortable shoe. What commonalities exist between different needs and different feet? Almost all of them can be helped by proper footwear! Barefoot inspired minimalist shoes can help foot problems and increase overall wellbeing. This blog series aims to highlight several common foot problems and how a wide toe box minimalist shoe can help minimize foot issues, back pain and more from the toes up!
(**Disclaimer: While we at SOM do have a PHD (Positive Happy Dedication) in Sneakerology, we are not podiatrists or physical therapists! We are presenting information we have found helpful and insightful, but as with anything, your mileage may vary!
Back pain - Barefoot-inspired shoes help back pain by allowing your foot to strike the ground on the ball or middle part of the foot first, allowing your foot to act as a natural shock absorber. Overbuilt running shoes with unnecessary padding and thick soles prevent this and instead your foot strikes feel first. According to Harvard scientist Dr. Daniel Lieberman, running in cushioned shoes is like “someone is hitting your heel with a hammer.”
Hammertoe - Hammertoe is an unnatural bend of the toes where the 2nd, 3rd and/or 4th toe are permanently bent downwards. This condition can occur when your foot and toe muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight are caused to shorten, pulling the toe downward or into a “hammer” shape. Hammertoe is most often caused by ill-fitting footwear such as high heels or shoes that are restrictive in length or width. Wide toe box shoes can help hammertoe by allowing the affected muscles and toes the room they need to stretch into a more natural shape.
Bunions - A bunion is a bump made of bone that can occur on the connecting joint at the base of your big toe. Bunions are formed when your big toe pushes against the toe next to it; causing the joint to swell and stick out. While there are other contributing factors, many bunions are caused by wearing too narrow footwear that forces to toes together, i.e. high heels or shoes that push the toes into a point. A wide toe box shoe can help bunions by allowing your toes to spread out and not be forced together.
Plantar Fasciitis - Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of uncomfortable pain in the heel; often experienced first thing in the morning or after long periods of sitting. It is caused by inflammation of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia typically acts like a shock absorber between your heel and your toes but repetitive stretching or stress on the tissue can cause tears and inflammation. Overbuilt shoes can cause you to strike the ground heel-first while walking or running, causing stress on the tissue and creating heel pain. Minimalist shoes with a thin sole can reduce shock and help relieve plantar fasciitis.
Neuropathy - Peripheral neuropathy refers to a problem with the nerves that send messages from the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body, i.e. if a hand or foot is hot or cold. Neuropathy occurs when there is disease or damage to a nerve or set of nerves. Symptoms can include: pins and needles, numbness, muscle weakness or hypersensitivity in various parts of the body. Neuropathy can be caused by a number of factors, including: infections, injury, imbalances in the metabolic system or certain toxins. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes. While a complicated medical issue, foot pain or uncomfortable sensations caused by Neuropathy can be lessened with proper footwear. One of the other symptoms of Neuropathy is muscle loss and wearing barefoot-inspired minimalist shoes helps your feet function as designed and increase strength in both your feet and calves.
We’ll be delving into these issues further in subsequent blogs and hope to explore more in-depth some of the common foot issues described above. We receive so much feedback from our customers about how their foot, back and joint problems have been helped by wearing minimalist shoes that we want to share that with you. If we can help people get back to their life and their passions and stay active then our mission here is complete. The most rewarding customer interactions we have are when someone tells us that our shoes have helped them get back on their feet, literally and figuratively. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more foot health blogs
To learn more about the steps you can take when adjusting from traditional footwear to SOM shoes, please check out our blog, New to Barefoot Shoes?