"What are those so-called barefoot shoes?"

"What do you mean by ‘barefoot’? Why are they called that when they are in fact shoes or boots?"

"Are they any good?"

"But don’t they look ugly?"

"But aren’t they uncomfortable? Everyone knows feet need cushioning and I cannot walk without heels, doesn’t it hurt?"

"But they don’t make me any taller or prettier or sexier?"

These questions and many others like them come from those who may have never had any experience with barefoot shoes. Especially in the so-called West, the tradition of wearing shoes everywhere has become a firm and undisputable tradition. That is in spite of the small detail of our ancestors from only 2-3 generations ago going barefoot for quite a big part of the warmer periods of the year (especially in the countryside) or at least mostly wearing footwear that did not confine or distort the feet. 


Of course, there have always been fashion crazes that have distorted and tortured the feet, but never has it involved all social classes and ethnicities in such a big way. It has become a norm that no one doubts. Fortunately, the pendulum of fashion and health has once again started to swing in the direction of what is actually good for the feet.


"The human body is designed to move in many different ways. Did you know that the feet hold about a quarter of your entire body's bones as well as many joints, tendons and small muscles?

One of the most important functions of shoes is to protect the feet from their surroundings – especially from temperatures and the harshness of the ground. Barefoot shoes are designed to let your feet move as much as they need, while offering the minimal necessary protection needed to keep them healthy.

Main features of barefoot shoes:

Toe shape

The toe shape follows the natural shape of the feet. It is wide enough to not press the toes together. There is enough room inside the shoe for the toes and feet muscles to move.


Barefoot shoes have a thin sole for the feet to get plenty of sensory feedback from the ground. Such a sole allows the small foot-muscles to do their designated job. The sole is flexible in both toe and heel and can be bent in a ~-shape. The sole has no cushioning. There is no toe spring when worn, the toe stays flat on the ground. 

Zero drop

Barefoot shoes have zero drop from heel to toe. Some traditional footwear may seem zero drop but have a rise hidden within their construction. The higher the heel, the higher the load on the transverse arch. Barefoot shoes also lack added arch support. All of this allows the foot-muscles, joints and tendons to move.

Right size and good fit

Barefoot shoes must be in the right size. Big enough to let all parts of the foot move, but small enough so that the foot muscles don’t have to work to hold the shoe on. The shoes must fit well and be fixed to the foot with the help of laces, strings or straps. They must not be loose at the heel.

Such footwear will protect your feet from the environment while letting your feet move as needed and as they’re meant. This reduces stress and pain in the feet and back and will help with your sense of balance.

There are several types of "unconventional" shoes with different names and it is important to remember that they aren’t all the same:

  • Barefoot shoe - allows your feet to move as if barefoot. But may sometimes stand for a shoe that can be worn on bare feet, but doesn’t meet the criteria mentioned above.
  • Minimalist shoe – has a minimalist look or use of materials, but may have a rigid sole or poor fit, etc. 
  • Functional shoe - meets one or more of the aforementioned criteria." 

Riina Arund - Movement and mindset coach