As a follow up to my last post all about the who's, what's and why's of barefoot shoes, this post is all about the hows:
How can I find the right barefoot shoes for me?
Do I really have to buy them online? I won't even be able to try them on before I commit!
How can I wear barefoot shoes without my feet kicking up a fuss?
How can I get away with wearing ridiculously comfortable shoes in my (fill in the blank) professional job?
Like I said in the previous post, the vast majority of barefoot shoes are made for runners, but that doesn't mean us non-runners can't have the same foot-healthy benefits!
Finding the ones that fit
So first up, what are your choices, for the casual or professional look- the everyday around town shoes?
And what about for the work environment?
For the dressed-down tennis shoe look, Lems, Vivobarefoot and Altra all have options. Some of them double as running shoes, so there are more options here than following categories.
My favorite are Lems Primal 2- I feel like I'm getting away with wearing slipper socks out in public.
Seriously, I wear them everywhere when I'm not working: errands, gym, even out hiking.
I've also gotten a lot of use (years) out of my Vivobarefoot Mary Janes (Amazon link because it looks like the company isn't making them any more)- though Vivo does still make similar "ballet flats"-style casual shoes.
What if I need fancier,
more professional shoes?
Unfortunately, this is where I think the barefoot shoe creators have the most room for improvement. I mean, what are the barefoot runners and all the rest of us supposed to do when we're not exercising?
Really quickly, you can get acclimated to the zero-drop, roomy toe box, and not want to look back during the 9-5. And for those of us who can't pull off the running-shoes-in-the-office look, there are just a few options.
Besides those Vivo Mary Janes above, Lems also makes a shoe they call Mary Jane. I've found that this is the best compromise between minimalist shoes that look professional for any office environment. I've only gotten compliments (many) and never a "what is this, Casual Friday?"
That being said, they still are a bit casual and might not be fully appropriate for all professional environments.
Oh, and by the way, forget any more "girly" shoes. With wide toes and no heel, this Mary Jane is about as feminine as barefoot shoes get.
A note on online shoe purchasing
Yep, it's a gamble. It just is. Initially, anyway. Then you learn what size from what brand fits best for you. If you're uncertain about a size, hemming and hawing between two sizes- Lems even recommends buying both sizes and returning one. Most shoe manufacturers who sell online expect a certain percentage of returns and thus generally have a very no-hassle return policy.
How about transitioning to barefoot shoes?
The best route is to transition under the guidance of a healthcare professional who is experienced and versed in the common pitfalls and tricks to this type of footwear.
One part of the barefoot transition may include Correct Toes- silicone toe spacers that, over time, gently guide the toe bones into their correct, barefoot positions. If these are used (as are commonly prescribed at the NW Foot & Ankle clinic), a slower transition process becomes key, as one will slowly develop a different bone structure in the feet.
In general, it is key to transition slowly (a few minutes up to an hour a day initially) and methodically add in activities that are routinely performed (start first with just walking or more sedentary activities before you work your way up to exercising and more high impact movements). Otherwise, yes, you'll get feet "hangovers"- a lingering soreness in the soles of your feet due to them experiencing more impact than they're used to.
Have you tried barefoot shoes? Have you shied away from trying them out? Have you encountered any obstacles? Please let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading, have a happy and warm winter,