Are you familiar with barefoot shoes? Perhaps the ever popular brand known as Vibram Five Fingers? Have you ever tried them on for size to see how they could help improve your training? Did you know that they are effective for overall health and full body conditioning in a multitude of forms? If not, you may want to consider how these fun, thin and very comfy little shoes can enhance everything from everyday foot health to your workout results.
Since their launch in 2006, Vibram now hosts a variety of shoe designs for a multitude of uses. Excellent for everything from casual outdoor wear, golf, strength training, watersports and yes, even running! I fell in love with these thin barefoot shoes quite a few years ago and they are still a staple in my strength training routine. I can honestly say they have made a difference both in my training as well as everyday casual wear.
Importance of Foot and Ankle Health – As a bodyworker I witness poor foot and lower leg health on a daily basis ranging from stiffness, tightness, chronic holding patterns, including very painful ailments one commonly known as plantar fasciitis. And trust me, I see it often and it isn’t enjoyable. Few people understand that issues such as these are usually created over time due to poor foot care or shoe selection choices just to name a few. It is important to properly care for your feet by maintaining openness, flexibility and strength for full-body health.
Our feet were designed for strength and mobility to withstand a lifetime of weight-bearing force and use. But unless you care for them they may not hold up to serve you as well as they could over time. Any form of rigidity or weakness in the foot region also greatly impacts other areas of the body. Another important factor is shoe selection. We abuse our feet constantly through the wear of flip-flop sandals, high heels, and shoes that are too small for our feet usually for the sake of aesthetics over comfort. This creates unnatural foot form, promotes stress and chronic imbalanced weight bearing force which over time can lead to a variety of foot, ankle and full body issues. Believe it or not, even the cushioned comfort of everyday sneaker wear can have a negative impact creating weakness if worn too often for too long.
Benefits of barefoot shoes – The Vibram FiveFinger shoes form to the curvature of your foot offering you the ability for total foot use in a natural state. You will find that when you go to purchase a pair for yourself you will need to be properly fitted as it is obviously not a one-size fits all. The natural curve now engages the smaller more intrinsic muscles within your feet and ankle for use that would usually be neglected. The benefit is that not only do you strengthen and create flexibility within your lower leg and foot region, but by conditioning this area in this way you now also have the ability to properly and more effectively incorporate the rest of the body for improved conditioning in whatever activity it is you are performing at the time.
I believe it’s all about balance. I don’t suggest wearing these fun shoes everyday, even though they really are comfy. But like anything else, your feet do require additional support and cushion depending on the situation. However, I do highly recommend including barefoot shoes into your shoe selection if you are serious about your overall health and wellness.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013