I read somewhere that we should invest a lot in whatever separates us from the floor: our mattress, our car (or tires, more specifically), or our shoes.

There are countless options when it comes to shoes, but most of them are the wrong choice for your feet. Let’s see why.

Your foot and its natural shape

The main problem with our shoes is that they need to be designed based on our feet’ natural form. Here’s a photograph from a study made in 1905 by Phil. Hoffmann, in which he compared the feet of people who wore shoes to people who didn’t.

Feet form, natural vs shaped

The image shows wide feet and fingers separated from one another. In contrast, this image shows how the feet adapt to the shoe shape.

Feet, shaped by shoes

We can see a more extreme case from China called foot binding. In this practice, women bound their feet to modify their natural form and put them in very tiny shoes. You can Google some images of the results if you’re up for it, but let me tell you, it’s not nice.

Still, it proves more strongly that feet can be shaped if we force them into a hard shape day in and day out.

Why is having a different shape in our feet a problem?

Maybe you don’t mind having my feet shaped like that, but it’s not only aesthetics. By losing their natural form, your feet can no longer serve you equally well, and you might have problems.

We lose function in parts of the foot, including the arch and toes, due to the constriction of modern shoe design, and we tend to have static foot conditions.

You can check here a complete list of references about this topic.

What’s the solution? Going barefoot?

Well, kind of. The idea is to wear shoes that support our natural form and protect our feet from cuts, slippery surfaces, etc.

These shoes are usually called minimal shoes or barefoot shoes, and there are countless brands available nowadays.

The ideal shoe should be flat, give enough space for your feet and fingers, and be suited for your environment (weather, usual surface, etc.).

Also, you can go barefoot when you’re at home.

Adaptation period, a rocky period

Apart from feeling the surface on each step, you might have an adaptation period during which your Achilles tendon hurts. This is normal since these barefoot shoes don’t usually have any “drop,” which means the angle between your heel and your toes is near zero.

You can start wearing a few days a week, for a few hours, and overtime completely replace your other shoes.

Some recommendations

I don’t get any referrals for these recommendations, but I hate when people point me toward an entirely new category of products and leave me clueless about brands or what to look for.

Here are some excellent options. These brands are expensive, although not so much if you compare them with some cool Nike shoes.

It will take you some time to adapt, and, indeed, we’re not used to this natural form of shoes aesthetically, but your feet will thank you twenty years from now.