Transitioning to Barefoot Shoes

Transitioning to Barefoot Shoes

Thinking of making the switch to barefoot shoes or still early in your journey? Here's a comprehensive guide to help you transition smoothly.

Go Slowly

When you first put on barefoot shoes, the first thing you're likely to notice is how incredibly comfortable they feel, and you might be tempted to wear them all the
time. However, it's crucial to allow your tissues time to adapt.

Barefoot shoes encourage greater muscle activation, particularly in the intrinsic muscles of the feet. Starting slowly allows these muscles to gradually strengthen without overloading them initially. 

Exercising with barefoot shoes for foot health

Think of it like starting a new workout routine. You wouldn’t jump straight into lifting heavy weights; you’d begin with lighter weights to build up strength gradually.

Similarly, start by wearing your barefoot shoes for short periods, and increase over time.


Strengthen Your Feet

Successfully transitioning to barefoot shoes will generally need to involve adding foot-strengthening exercises into your daily routine to improve stability and mobility.

This can include:

  • Toe spreading: Spread your toes wide to activate the muscles in your feet (you can use your fingers, toe spacers, or thread a sock between your toes).
  • Picking up objects with your toes: Use your toes to pick up small objects like marbles or pencils.
  • Toe lifts: Lift and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the ground.
    Naboso Neuro Ball and Splay Toe Spacers
  • Foot rolling on a ball: Use a ball to massage the bottom of your feet (we love the Naboso Neuro Ball for this!).
  • Calf stretching: Stretch your calves to support the muscles and tendons in your feet (check out our favourite calf stretch here).

"All You Can Feel" Buffet

Hot tip: spend more time actually barefoot! Aim to walk on a variety of surfaces, providing your feet with a sensory feast. Try walking on grass, rocks, gravel, sand, Shakti mats, or even Lego (we're not kidding!).

Imagine your feet are like sensory explorers. The more varied the terrain they explore, the more information they gather, and the stronger and more adaptable they become.

It’s Not All or Nothing

Don't worry, we're not going to tell you to throw away all of your conventional shoes! Transitioning to barefoot shoes doesn't mean you can never wear cushioned shoes again. You can go back and forth between minimalist footwear and conventional shoes as your feet adapt.

Not All Barefoot Shoes Are Equal

A range of barefoot shoes available at Roam Barefoot

Even within the world of barefoot shoes, there's so much variety. As you're transitioning, consider starting with brands that are more beginner-friendly. Some examples are:

  • Barebarics
  • PaperKrane (the adult shoes come with extra insoles)
  • Some Xero Shoes styles (Prio, HFS II, Dillon, Mesa II, 360°, Aqua Cloud Sandals)
  • Lems
  • Altra

Patience and Persistence

Transitioning to barefoot shoes is a journey that requires patience and persistence. Starting slowly and gradually increasing wear time allows you to build confidence in your new footwear while minimizing the likelihood of setbacks.

Remember, everyone's adaptation process will vary based on factors such as foot strength, flexibility, and previous footwear habits. Listen to your body, be patient with the process, and celebrate small victories along the way.

Think of your barefoot transition journey as a marathon, not a sprint. Every step you take, no matter how small, is progress toward healthier, stronger feet. By following these tips and giving your feet the time and attention they need, you'll enjoy a smoother transition to barefoot shoes and experience the numerous benefits they offer.

Back to blog