What Are Barefoot Shoes and Why Are They Beneficial For Children?

barefoot child
*Collaborative Post

Children’s feet are extremely pliable as their bones are still developing. This means it’s important that they wear high-quality and well-fitting footwear to protect their developing feet and prevent long-term issues. Barefoot shoes aim to remove the overengineering found in modern shoes, which can have a range of benefits for wearers, and in particular, for children.

What are barefoot shoes?

Barefoot shoes are also sometimes called minimal shoes. They aim to make it feel as though you are walking or running barefoot, giving your feet as much natural movement as possible, while still protecting them from dirt, cold, wet weather and rough terrain.

Barefoot shoes feature a flat sole with a wider area for the toes and no heel-to-toe drop. Whereas modern shoes often include lots of cushioning and added arch support, creating an unnatural foot movement, barefoot shoes allow your feet and toes to act naturally.

What are the benefits?

Barefoot shoes come with many benefits compared to traditional footwear.

Strengthening the feet

Traditional footwear often features inbuilt arch support. At face value, this seems like a good thing, however, when your feet have this constant arch support, they no longer need to develop and so become weaker and less stable over time. As barefoot shoes don’t have arch support, this encourages your feet to get stronger. Similarly, barefoot shoes don’t have a cushioned heel meaning that the muscles in your feet and legs develop a natural heel-toe movement naturally.

Balance

In regular shoes, your toes are typically cramped together in a tight row, which affects your balance, especially if they’re worn for long periods. Barefoot shoes, on the other hand, allow your toes to be placed naturally within the shoe, as they feature a wide toe box for natural toe placement.

Grip and dexterity

Barefoot shoes have a thinner sole that is more flexible than built-up traditional shoes. This means you can more easily feel the surface you’re walking over, which over time can help improve the grip and dexterity of your feet and toes and make it easier for you to walk over difficult terrains. It also strengthens your muscles and leads to all-around better movement in your day-to-day life, which can improve your overall health and wellbeing, with improved fitness and fewer aches and pains.

Why are barefoot shoes beneficial for children?

Children shouldn’t wear shoes at all until they can walk. Ideally, children should then still spend plenty of time barefoot while their feet are still developing and this includes going barefoot outdoors. However, as parents, we also need to protect our children’s feet from potential hazards when they’re walking, running, climbing and playing outside. This means we’re often forced to put shoes on our children from a young age so that they can enjoy being outdoors in all types of weather and walking across all types of terrain. Barefoot shoes allow children to wear shoes while still developing the muscles that they would develop if they were walking barefoot, aiding with the development of walking muscles, making walking easier and preventing long-term foot problems.

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