Footwear manufacturers have only been using rubber for soles since 1892, but you’d think they have been around longer with the popularity of sandshoes. Different sporting stores and brands have specialised rubber-soled shoes for basketball, running, and even climbing. Everyone has at least one pair that they use for errands, school, or casual outings—they blend comfort and durability. However, are they perfect for you?
What We Were Taught
From childhood, we were taught that shoes need ample cushioning to support our weight and promote foot health. Thick-soled shoes are the standard. However, new research shows that normal is not necessarily natural. Thick soles, excessive cushioning, and narrow toe boxes make feet weak.
Though big athletic brands sell what they call stabilising shoes, these are only slightly less destructive to traditional footwear. Minimal shoes, which are wide, thin, and flexible, mimic the way humans walk without shoes, which research shows helps with stability and foot strength.
Scientists from two different studies have seen a connection between cushioned shoes and the reduction of mobility and stability in users. Let us take a closer look at these findings below.
Minimal Shoes Increase Foot Strength
According to research from Liverpool University, cushioned shoes show a reduction in foot strength, which directly affects mobility and stability. The study measured toe flexion strength, or the ability of the toes to curl inward.
The control participants were asked to wear their most frequently worn footwear at least 70 per cent of the time, six days a week. Meanwhile, the researchers asked the intervention participants to wear Vivobarefoot shoes over the same period. Both groups monitored their progress through weekly activity logs.
The findings showed that toe flexion strength increased in the second group. As such, the researchers concluded that regular use of minimal footwear allows adults to build up foot strength, which means reduced risk of falls.
Minimal Shoes Improve Stability
According to a second study published in Scientific Reports, minimal shoes can help people with a history of falls improve their stability and mobility. Their study examined thirty persons with a history of falls—the participants were 64 to 72 years old. They were also between 1.60 to 1.76 meters tall and between 61.9 and 89.1 kilograms.
This group of researchers tested three states—participants walking or standing barefoot, using minimal shoes, and using conventional shoes. They used pressure plate analysis to compare the participants’ postural stability in different scenarios, quantifying the effects based on the movement of the participant’s centre of pressure.
The researchers found that being barefoot and wearing minimal shoes are better for postural stability than conventional ones. What’s more, they also learned that minimal shoes increase the wearer’s balance when performing movements like jumping, kicking, and squatting, much more than conventional shoes or being barefoot. Persons with a history of falls also performed better on tests for balance and stability when wearing minimal shoes.
Finally, the researchers noted that the participants perceived walking in minimal shoes as more stable than walking in traditional ones.
Why Are Minimal Shoes Better?
Minimal shoes have a wider sole, which means a more even distribution of pressure across the foot. Having a broad plane means more activity in mechanoreceptors in the feet, especially ones that conventional shoes don’t stimulate.
It could be that the central nervous system benefits from this additional sensory information. The researchers concluded that there needs to be more research into the benefits of minimal shoes but that the current data is already helpful for persons who want to improve their foot strength and posture.
Strong feet are healthy feet. When you cushion your foot with too much rubber and air, you make your bones and muscles weak. Combat this using minimal shoes; using thin, flexible, and wide footwear allow your feet to move naturally, which is better for you in the long run.
Be kinder to your feet and get Vivobarefoot shoes today. Vivobarefoot is the best barefoot shoe brand in Australia, offering a range of ultra-thin, puncture-resistant footwear for men, women, and kids. Browse our collection or get in touch with us for enquiries!