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The difference between barefoot shoes and minimalist shoes

Minimalist footwear has become popular in recent years due to the belief that walking barefoot, or in shoes that offer maximum freedom, is better for foot health and overall body posture. There are many people who think that if we are not born with a high heel, or with something that supports our plantar arch, or with foam cushioning, we should not wear shoes that do just that. A continuation of this thought or this reasoning is that wearing shoes with heels, with plantar support or with a thick and hard sole is going against nature, and that going against nature always entails health problems.

Even agreeing that going against nature almost always entails health problems, we are not going to talk about health because the subject is long and complex, but we are going to tell you about the differences between barefoot footwear and footwear. minimalist, which look alike, but are not exactly the same; and by the way we will recommend some Iberian brands that sell footwear of this type.

Barefoot shoes

This type of footwear that tries to resemble as much as possible the sensation of walking barefoot is called or known as barefoot footwear. In general, this type of shoe has a very thin and very flexible sole, does not have an insole or arch support, does not have a heel lift, and has a last that is wide enough to allow the toes to move freely. and cling to the ground.

We could say that the next thing to wear barefoot shoes would be to go barefoot.

Minimalist footwear

Minimalist footwear is then called all that type of footwear that flees from the classic lasts to introduce, to a greater or lesser extent, some of the characteristics mentioned above: wide last, flexibility and finesse of the sole, and cushioning and rear elevation reduced.

This means that all barefoot footwear is minimalist, but not all minimalist footwear is barefoot. Minimalist footwear would include all those footwear that attempt to come close to offering a more natural gait, including the barefoot which is the closest approach.

In particular, minimalist footwear is characterized by:

A thin and flexible sole, with a thickness of a few millimeters (between 3.5 and 10) and a flexibility that allows torsion and deformation capacity in all directions, without movement restrictions. Obviously, the thinner the sole, the greater the sensation of going barefoot. It is a sensation that can be uncomfortable (for some, unbearable) the first few weeks wearing minimalist shoes, but after the corresponding adaptation time, it offers a pleasant and stimulating sensation of control, of knowing what you are stepping on. It is not recommended, if you are an initiate in minimalist footwear, to jump into the mountains to check these sensations, since our soles are not used to stones, pebbles and china. Have you noticed that all the surfaces we walk on during the day are totally flat? Have you noticed that in nature there are practically no flat surfaces, and if they do exist, they will be covered with branches, sticks, stones and other elements?

Absence of plantar arch. Our feet already have their own plantar arch that the body knows how to manage, in most cases, autonomously through muscles and joints. Each one of us has a different plantar arch and our bone, joint and muscle structure is adapted to that plantar arch, and vice versa. For this reason, it does not make sense that we all use the same type of footwear, or that we do not acquire footwear taking these particularities into account. The inconvenience when switching to minimalist footwear is realizing that our plantar arch has stopped working correctly because it has become overly accommodating to an external element doing the work. The human body works in ‘resources are limited’ mode and tends to stop keeping things that are not used in good condition.

Not have rear elevation, or heel, of any kind. If our foot does not have a natural elevation, there is no reason to add external agents to provide it. In the same way, our foot already has the necessary padding to protect its bones and it would not be necessary to use a rubber prosthesis. Yes, it is necessary to note that, if you have spent many years of your life wearing shoes with rear elevation and thick rubber bands, the first weeks with minimalist shoes can be especially intense (even causing injuries) in this part of the body. This is happening, quite simply, because we are radically modifying a gesture to which the foot has become accustomed for many years: walking with posterior elevation and walking with a rubber band that neutralizes a large part of the energy.

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