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What's wrong with my shoes?

Minimalist Shoes from Barefoot IrelandEach of our feet has 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. These moving parts in our feet need to be worked to keep them healthy.

Experts believe the shoes we wear are not only reshaping but weakening our foot and leg muscles, leaving them lazy, underdeveloped and more prone to injury. Add to this the fact that our walking environment has changed so much over the last 100 years - we have flattened everything from roads to pavements – and the result is lazy, under stimulated feet.

Issues with wearing traditional training shoes

Heel/Achilles Support

  • Allows runner to heel-strike without the benefits of accurate sensory feedback, leading to poor biomechanics.

Raised Heel

  • Shortening of Achilles tendon and hamstrings. Encourages heel-striking, especially downhill which can lead to shin splints.

Cushioning System

  • Only the bigger muscles in the foot and leg are used. Smaller muscles used when adjusting to changing terrain are switched off. This leads to greater muscle fatigue, reduces venous return and increases the chances of repetitive use injuries.

Arch Support

  • A weaker, longer planter fascia causes the arch to flatten.

Pronation Control

  • Addresses the symptom but not the cause. Alters foot, knee, hip and spinal alignment during stride and may increase the risk of injury.

Superior Comfort

  • Decreased sensory feedback, disconnection from environment

Why train barefoot?

Training Barefoot can strengthen your feet and reduce injuriesWhether training for strength, endurance or speed, all our movement originates from our centre. Training barefoot keeps you aware and focused on your shifting centre, increasing gluteal and core activation and working the smaller muscles in your feet and legs. Postural alignment, balance, bio-mechanics and weight distribution are all altered unnaturally by wearing shoes.

More performance, less injury.

"Athletes that train barefoot run faster and have fewer injuries. It's common sense" Vin Lananna, legendary track coach. Vin uses barefoot sessions on grass to build foot/ankle strength, improve range of motion and increase awareness of foot positioning. Michael Warburton, an Australian physical therapist, wrote that running barefoot decreases the chance of ankle sprains and foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis.

Shoes do a good job of protecting you from the elements, but over time they desensitize the tiny sensors in your feet that tell them how to react to the terrain. Eventually our feet grow lazy and weak, triggering a chain reaction up the entire leg that can lead to shin splints, runner's knee, and iliotibial band strains. Cushioned running-shoe heels add to the problem by shortening calf muscles and the Achilles tendon.

9 reasons to wear FiveFingers

  1. Enhanced running efficiency - research has shown that running barefoot results in a 4% increase in efficiency.
  2. Decreased blood pressure - as your feet strike the ground at a slightly different angle with each step, multiple muscle groups are activated resulting in greater blood flow back through the venous system.
  3. Decreased ankle sprains - better awareness of foot position from direct contact with the ground and reduced leverage and twisting around the ankle may decrease risk of ankle sprains.
  4. Lowered risk of shin splints - shin splints, ITB syndrome and peri-patella pain are often caused by altered biomechanical loading of the limbs. Barefoot runners land mid-foot, increasing the work of the foot's soft tissue support structures, increasing foot strength and possibly reducing the risk of injury.
  5. Reduce back pain - by removing the heel lift we bring our hips back to their natural alignment, taking the load off the facet joints in the lower back.
  6. Enhance proprioception - our feet are able to sense and relay data back to our brain, allowing us to better handle challenging terrain.
  7. Stronger foot muscles - if you don't use it you lose it. Wearing FiveFingers engages and strengthens our foot muscles.
  8. Diminish risk of bunions - conventional shoes press our toes together. Fivefingers gently spread them and encourages the big toe to work.
  9. Optimise balance - superior sensory feedback to the brain means better balance and faster reaction time. Important for athletes and seniors.

 

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