Regaining our natural connection to the earth

Believe it or not, but our feet don’t need as much cushioning and support as you’d think. Over thousands of years, our feet evolved to be connected to the ground, to feel the earth beneath our soles. Modern footwear has severed this connection and brought with it a host of issues – altering foot shape, increasing the need for orthotics and support, and increasing discomfort.

However, barefoot shoes provide the perfect halfway house – shoes with thin soles and plenty of space that keep your feet protected while allowing you to feel the ground underneath.

We believe that children should start their barefoot journey as early as possible to make the most of the advantages barefoot shoes provide, but transitioning to barefoot at any stage will benefit your child’s foot health moving forward.

We've explained what we think is great about barefoot shoes, but there are loads of studies out explaining the benefits, too! We've listed a variety of sources for you to watch, listen to, and read at the end of the page.

What can barefoot shoes help with?

Increased strength, balance and stability

Conventional shoes have something called a heel-to-toe drop, where the heel is raised. Even in trainers, this is often the case! In particular, a raised heel shortens your calf muscles, reduces your range of motion, and can be painful for your lower body.

Barefoot shoes instead have what we call a ‘zero drop’, where the sole is completely flat the entire length of the shoe. This is our foot’s natural state, and when you wear barefoot shoes, you’ll be using muscles that you wouldn’t in more conventional shoes. Studies have shown that wearing barefoot shoes for just six months can increase foot strength by up to 60% while improving natural balance and stability so you stand upright in a more healthy posture.

Decreased pain

Ever worn a pair of shoes that force your toes into shapes they really don’t like? That’s pretty common in conventional shoes – if your feet hurt, it’s usually the shoes that are the problem!

Barefoot shoes instead can reduce pain by giving your feet plenty of room. All barefoot shoes feature what we call a wide ‘toe box’ – the area where your toes usually sit in the shoe. By allowing your feet to spread naturally, you’ll improve your posture and alignment, meaning less pain and discomfort.

Improves sensory input

Did you know that the place in the brain that registers sensory input from the feet is the same size as the one that receives input from your hands? By wearing conventional footwear, you can be starving your brain of this connection!

Barefoot or minimalist shoes give your brain far more sensory input from your feet, which helps improve movement and reduce pain. Paediatricians recommend that children should be barefoot as possible to improve their sensory input and strengthen feet and ankles.

The science behind barefoot

In recent years, there has been plenty of attention on barefoot shoes, and hundreds of studies have been undertaken, understanding the benefits of barefoot shoes for running, walking, climbing and more! While most of these studies have been based on adults, there have been some great studies conducted on children.

We’ve highlighted some of the most important and interesting studies for both children and adults below. For a quick overview, have a look at some of the videos, or if you’d like to take a more in-depth look, we’ve listed some great podcasts and vital studies for you to explore.


Things to watch

Why You Should Wear Barefoot Shoes (4 GOOD LOOKING OPTIONS)


Choosing Kids Shoes: Healthy, Minimalist Footwear for Children

Things to listen to

Things to read

Running shoes may cause injuries, but is going barefoot the fix?

The Risks and Benefits of Running Barefoot or in Minimalist Shoes

Barefoot running: an evaluation of current hypothesis, future research and clinical applications

Children’s Footwear: Launching Site for Adult Foot Ills

Hazard of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear

Daily activity in minimal footwear increases foot strength

Minimal footwear improves stability and physical function in middle-aged and older people compared to conventional shoes

The Urban Runner with an Evolutionary Legacy

Smart Women, Stupid Shoes, and Cynical Employers

New Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Suffer from Foot Pain

Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples

Walking in Minimalist Shoes Is Effective for Strengthening Foot Muscles

Ticking Time Bomb: Children’s shoes cause health problems later in life for adults

Foot Strike Patterns Differ Between Children and Adolescents Growing up Barefoot vs. Shod

Foot strength and stiffness are related to footwear use in a comparison of minimally- vs. conventionally-shod populations

How going Barefoot affects your Brain

Motor Skills of Children and Adolescents Are Influenced by Growing up Barefoot or Shod

Barefoot is better for kids‚ new study shows

Children with no shoes on 'do better in classroom', major study finds

Studies show kids who grow up barefoot have better motor skills

Effects of footwear on treadmill running biomechanics in preadolescent children

Being barefoot. Prevalence at home, in school and during sport: a cross-sectional survey of 714 New Zealand secondary school boys

The influence of footwear on the prevalence of flat foot. A survey of 2300 children

Athletic footwear: unsafe due to perceptual illusions

Hazard of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear

The plantar sole is a 'dynamometric map' for human balance control

A comparative biomechanical analysis of habitually unshod and shod runners based on a foot morphological difference

The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in native barefoot walkers

Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based?

The effect of three different levels of footwear stability on pain outcomes in women runners: a randomised control trial

Effects of a foot strengthening program on foot muscle morphology and running mechanics: A proof-of-concept, single-blind randomized controlled trial

Efficacy of a progressive resistance exercise program to increase toe flexor strength in older people

Influence of Maximal Running Shoes on Biomechanics Before and After a 5K Run

Increased vertical impact forces and altered running mechanics with softer midsole shoes

Reduction in Plantar Heel Pain and a Return to Sport After a Barefoot Running Intervention in a Female Triathlete With Plantar Fasciitis

The Truth About Arch Support - A Meta Analysis of 150 Studies