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iacas

Minimalist, Natural, Barefoot Style Shoes

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I wanted to start a(nother) discussion about what I strongly feel are the best footwear options, the industry's ongoing trend of building up the heels and adding "cushioning" everywhere, all in the false name of comfort.

When you buy a shoe with a bunch of padding, it will feel good at first, but it will cause issues over time. Our bodies are incredible machines, and we've evolved to do some things really, really well. This includes walking upright: our feet are mechanical marvels in what they are built to support and how they're built to work.

Cramming your feet into narrow, inflexible, "supportive" shoes with lots of cushioning and a high heel drop is working against the way our bodies work. They're like putting a cast on your foot - your muscles atrophy and your feet stop working the way they were designed to work.

I've always been a barefoot guy. I go barefoot 99% of the time I'm at home. When I go outside around my house I'll wear some flip flops or something with minimal padding. I'll get the mail barefooted, etc. At Golf Evolution, particularly when I have to leave my shoes by the door to let the snow melt off of them, I'll often walk around in my socks, and sometimes two hours go by before I notice and go get my shoes.

There's a good interview here that you should read: http://truelinkswear.com/blog/barefootwear-an-interview-with-nick-at-the-foot-collective/. And here is a good article, too: http://www.thefootcollective.com/barefoot/.

shoe-feet.jpgscreen-shot-2017-07-06-at-9.17.47-am.png

My feet don’t hurt so why should I switch?

Most people with dysfunctional feet have zero foot pain…….Yet. If the arch of your foot has flattened out you can guarantee that after enough time on your feet they will start to hurt. Why? Because the arch of the foot is the key to a stable foot and indicates that the intrinsic foot muscles are working to create stability and protect the fascia from being over-tensioned. The more time you spend in supportive, stiff footwear the more likely you become to start getting foot pain.

Just like it wouldn’t be very smart to wait until your car starts falling apart to fix it, waiting until your feet start being painful is a poor way of treating your body. Fix the issue before it becomes a problem by learning about your feet, working on foot strength and mobility, spending more time barefoot and making the transition to barefoot footwear.

I pretty much agree.

An X-Ray of someone in golf shoes - or even a lot of sneakers or dress shoes that we wear day to day in offices, etc. - would look pretty similar:

barefootxray.jpg

We walk a lot in playing golf. Even in a cart, my Apple Watch will show thousands of steps in a round of golf. More if it's cart path only. Even more if you walk, of course. We can walk up to seven or eight miles in a round of golf. Easily.

We, more than most people, should care more about the health of our feet and ankles.

Q. How can shoes be designed to better accommodate the human foot?

"I believe most shoe companies aren’t focused at all on foot health. They are primarily marketing and technology companies who happen to make shoes. 

In general a shoe should provide minimal support so that the foot can feel the ground underneath it. The shoe should be zero drop and it should have a wide toe box to allow the toes to move naturally.

Advances in materials science will allow companies to start making thinner and more durable shoes that support healthy foot function."

Q. What are a few exercises that people can do to start to regain natural foot function?

"There are 3 videos on the TFC website that can help to reset and regain natural foot function. The videos focus on:

Foot mobility work, hip mobility work and upper glute release." (Check them out here: https://tfc-shop.com/pages/videos)

"Additionally, spending more time walking around the house barefoot and trying to balance barefoot on one leg with your eyes closed can be extremely helpful."

Here is one of the videos:

Here's another video on toe spreaders, which you could probably make for yourself, or at least something similar (maybe not for sleeping, though):

Transitioning to Minimalist Style Shoes

I have heard from a few people who, when they first switch to minimalist shoes (like TRUE Linkswear :true_linkswear:), will complain that their arches are sore, or their feet or ankles are a little sore.

That's because they have to build up a little strength in their feet. All the years they've been wearing highly structured shoes with a lot of support in the arch especially have weakened and atrophied their muscles.

Q. Is there any other helpful information about how minimalist footwear can effect your golf game or swing?

In addition to the general health benefits described above, foot and ankle health should help you perform better on and off the course. Healthy feet prevent injuries, allow you to function with less pain and increase your movement efficiency. Shoes that allow you to feel more of the ground allow for more integration throughout the lower body, engaging the hips, and creating more rotational torque.

The Point?

I just wanted to start (again) a conversation about the footwear that y'all tend to wear, and increase a little awareness.

If you're wearing small toe-box shoes with heel drop (a heel that's higher than the toe box), lots of arch support and sole cushioning, and that's heavier and/or not very flexible… you could probably do yourself a favor by spending a little time investigating this stuff.


I was going to update this topic, but I wanted to start a new one to call a little more attention to the topic. I encourage you to read at least the first page or two of this topic, though:

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I grew up playing sports. I can't tell you the number of times I've rolled my ankle. The worst came in highschool. It wasn't even during an athletic move when my ankle gave out and I sprained the three ligaments that cross onto the top of the foot from the side. Every since then, I would sprain my ankle every year or two. I've done so playing golf. My step would hit a hallow in the ground, or maybe the side of a sprinkler, and it would easily roll over. This happened until I got my first pair of Truelinks shoes. Since then I've only sprained my ankle once. It was because the side of my foot hit a pretty sizable hallow in the ground. I was able to catch myself before doing significant damage. I was able to walk it off and continue playing. My ankle was fine in a couple of days. I've notice a big improvement in my ankle stability since then. I notice that I can walk greater distances and not feel pain in my feet like before. I use to be elated when I got to my car after a round. Just to get the weight off my feet. Now, a round of golf doesn't phase me. I noticed a big improvement in my balance.

Like Erik, if I am at home, I take off my shoes. I've always been a person who would walk barefoot as much as possible. Even as a kid, I would go outside barefoot. I've never had any foot issue, or ankle issue while not wearing a shoe. The only issues I've had is when I had to wear the typical shoe.

I 100% support a minimalistic barefoot shoe. I encourage people to find a style you like and give them a try for a significant amount of time (at least a few months)

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I'm a barefoot guy, too. Growing up in a Chinese household (no shoes in the house!) will do that to you. I get pretty particular about the fit of my shoes and I like to wear old sneakers because they basically have zero support whatsoever. I wear shoes instead of boots for work because I care about comfort more than a little bit of extra protection for my feet. When the weather gets warmer, I wear sandals out unless they're not appropriate for the occasion.

Having said all of that, my golf shoes are not ideal for my feet. They're tight in the heels like ice skates, which I'm ok with, but the toe box isn't great. My pinky toes get bunched up and it's mildly uncomfortable; it's something I forget until I put them on, and I figure I'm only wearing them for about four hours a week so I live with it. They have the BOA system which I like because it gives me an easy way to get my shoes tightened. I like my shoes tight around the middle of my foot but not at the toes, so the BOA is perfect for that, but the shoe shape leaves much to be desired.

The primary reason I bought my shoes was for the water-resistance. I absolutely need good water-resistance in my golf shoes because I play early in the mornings. When I bought my current shoes, TRUE Linkswear was having water-resistance issues with their lineup, so they weren't an option. That problem is in the past AFAIK so there's really no reason for me not to get a pair now since I like everything else about them.

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I have arthritis in my right big toe joint. My PT recommended many of the same exercises as shown above to keep the flexibility. Stiff shoes are the opposite of what you want. I also like low heal drop shoes and wide toe boxes. So when I buy running shoes, hikers and golf shoes, I have all that in mind. I end up buying a longer size just to get the toes right.

My Footjoys are pretty good for the most part.  I really liked earlier Trues, but the water and cracking issues turned me away. The latest reviews make me think it could be time to go back.

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I wear sandals all year round.  The only "shoes" I own are an old pair of FootJoys that I use primarily for yard work.  It is much easier to push a lawnmower up a hill if you are wearing spikes.  

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14 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

The latest reviews make me think it could be time to go back.

The Outsider and Original are really nice.

They're not quite the original Tours, but they're good shoes.

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

The Outsider and Original are really nice.

They're not quite the original Tours, but they're good shoes.

Thanks. My birthday is coming! I just re-read your Outsider review. Which do you like better?

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Just now, boogielicious said:

Thanks. My birthday is coming! I just re-read your Outsider review. Which do you like better?

The Original. Mostly for the looks - they're pretty similar otherwise, I think.

The Outsider has 4mm heel drop. I think the Original may have 0 or 2. 4mm isn't too bad, though.

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Reading part of the first post I really thought this was going to be proposing what I would call Earth Shoes v2.0.

For those of you not old enough to have been around in the 70's here is what earth shoes had a wide toe box (like the true shoes) but they were inverted incline, with heel being lower than the toe. And they came in any color that you wanted, as long as it was brown.

Earth-shoe-repair.jpg.78eb9bca5e6690d248b030221c753c57.jpg

Edited by Wally Fairway

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I have owned a few pairs of cowboy boots over the years, and while I liked the style, I never really liked the fit. I have a narrow heel, and wider toes, sort of like the "natural" illustrations. A lot of newer boot styles have square toes with a wider toe box and lower heels, and I have on a pair right now. Possibly the best fitting shoes I have ever owned, except for a pair of Merrills also with the "natural" style, narrow heel-wide toe box.

  I have wanted to try Trues for sometime, and think I will do that soon.

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I wear FootJoy Versaluxe. I have no idea what kind of drop they have, But they are comfortable. I ordered a pair of Trues several years ago, and could not get past the looks. They never made it out of the house. My foot is a bit narrow, so I doubt they would have worked. It sounds as if a lot of guys really love them, but I really don't think the barefoot style would benefit me.

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2 hours ago, caniac6 said:

I really don't think the barefoot style would benefit me.

I don't even know what that means.

Foot width isn't super relevant here. Narrow feet still want to spread out and not be cramped in the toe box.

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56 minutes ago, iacas said:

I don't even know what that means.

Foot width isn't super relevant here. Narrow feet still want to spread out and not be cramped in the toe box.

I've had some shoes that were a little wider than what I usually use, and my foot moved all around inside the shoe. My foot is far from cramped in a medium width shoe. I kind of feel like that just because it works well for you, does not mean it will work for everyone. My son goes barefoot a lot, and I wear shoes a lot. I hate wearing flip flops. If I wear sandals, I wear Keans, and they have a fair amount of structure. It's just my preference.

Edited by caniac6

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12 minutes ago, caniac6 said:

I've had some shoes that were a little wider than what I usually use, and my foot moved all around inside the shoe. My foot is far from cramped in a medium width shoe.

I've experienced this as well, I actually have very narrow feet like a beautiful Russian ballerina. I've definitely felt my foot sliding around laterally in wider toe box shoes.

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14 minutes ago, caniac6 said:

I've had some shoes that were a little wider than what I usually use, and my foot moved all around inside the shoe. My foot is far from cramped in a medium width shoe.

There's a lot more to it than that.

Heel drop. Arch support. Structure. Weight. Flexibility.

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3 hours ago, colin007 said:

I've experienced this as well, I actually have very narrow feet like a beautiful Russian ballerina. I've definitely felt my foot sliding around laterally in wider toe box shoes.

I also have narrow feet and I actually prefer this feeling. Years of wearing sandals has taught me exactly how little support I need from my footwear as well as where it needs to be bound to my foot to remain secure.

Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, I like my shoes tight around the midsection and the heel, but not around my toes. My shoes aren't going anywhere and my feet are more responsive to movement.

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