Why Barefoot is Best!
1. Barefoot aids natural growth
If you’ve ever looked at your feet – shoe shod or not – you’ll notice how they taper inwards at the tip, with the toes pinched in. Here’s some news for you: that’s not how your feet are supposed to look! They’ve been moulded that way through years of wearing shoes.
Now have a look at your bubba’s footprint. Notice how it’s narrow at the heels and gets wider towards the toes? We tend to shove our children’s feet into stiff, over supportive shoes before their foot bones have even fully formed. A baby’s foot is made up of cartilage, with bones developing over several years. Research has shown that our feet conform to the shapes of our shoes, rather than developing naturally.
For a start, most shoes have a toe box that, well, boxes in our toes and prevents them spreading to their natural width. Many shoes often come with heel cushioning, which elevates the back of the foot and can shorten the muscles and tendons in the back of the leg.
Leonardo Da Vinci once said: “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”
And we think he has it right. Our feet have evolved to do everything we need to do to walk, jump and run. Why would we want to mess with that natural biology any more than is necessary?
2. Learn how to walk and play properly
Shoes can warp the way your kids learn how to walk. It sounds weird, right? Shouldn’t kids naturally know how to walk properly? The thing is, none of us do.
Cushioned soles mean we tend to slam our heels into the ground rather than tread gently. Most shoes feature a toe spring that helps us lift our toes off the ground.
With all this additional help, shoes fail to build our muscles designed for walking. By regularly wearing shoes, children are unable to strengthen their toes, ligaments or tendons.
Podiatrist Tracy Byrne says kids who walk barefoot keep their heads up more. They’re able to feel the ground, which in turn improves their sense of balance.
“The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down,” Ms Byrne says.
On top of this, barefoot play can help children develop confidence. Instead of slipping and sliding around in shoes, children can use the natural traction in their soles as they climb the slippery dip backwards or can flex their toes as they grip the fireman’s pole in the playground.
3. Spatial awareness
There’s a bit more science to this reasoning. The soles of our feet have over 200,000 nerve endings which transmit to our brains information about the ground we walk on. This activity is called proprioception, the body’s awareness of itself in its surroundings.
Allowing these nerve endings to feel the ground helps children develop better balance and coordination, and can lead to fewer lower body injuries.
Of course, that’s not to mention that walking barefoot enforces better care with every tread. It keeps kids focused on their surroundings, and gentler in their movements. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
4. Healthier feet
A recent study in South Africa suggests people had healthier feet before shoes were invented. Its research has shown that populations that often go barefoot have healthier feet than shoe-clad communities such as in Europe.
It makes sense. Shoes provide a warm, damp environment that fosters trapped fungus and bacteria. Tight shoes on growing children often cause ingrown toenails that can break the skin and cause infections. It’s not a pleasant thought, but an easily avoidable one!
5. Shoes last longer
Let’s be honest there are times – and places – where you really can’t get away with your child running around barefoot. Many children grow up in a world of concrete and asphalt. Playgrounds often feature splinter-causing wood chips on the ground.
But if your kids aren’t wearing shoes as often, those shoes are probably going to last longer – at least until they no longer fit those more naturally growing feet. And who can complain with that?
You may find it odd that a shoe company is advocating barefoot play. But it’s because our philosophy is actually all about child development.
Going barefoot is one of the best things you can do for your kid, besides reading them bedtime stories and feeding them healthy food.
But for those times when shoes are a necessity, try to find shoes that foster natural development. Bobux’s shoes feature flexible soles and soft designs to nurture your child’s foot development at every stage of their development.