Fads and trends clog our social media feeds with the latest and greatest tips and products for shrinking bellies and increasing muscle. New diets can eliminate a certain food, while others have us eating just one. New products can shock our stomachs into six-pack abs, while others have us shaking weights in front of our faces. Entry into these trends can be expensive to try or time-consuming to benefit from, but in the world of barefoot-feel footwear, anyone can participate in the 24-Hour Barefoot Challenge by simply removing their shoes.
No cost to try.
Are you wearing shoes right now? If “no,” then you’re already enjoying the benefits of unrestricted feet. If “yes,” then take a second to remove them and feel the difference when toes are able to breathe. Do your feet feel cooler? Are you better able to relax?
One of the first things we do after a hard day's work is relieve the weight of the world from our soles. We kick off our shoes and rest our feet from not only the pressures of our footwear, but the stress of our body pressing down with every step. “Your feet are a vital part of your daily activity; they are responsible for carrying your entire body around” (andersonpodiatrycenter.com).
The amount of weight our bodies carry is compounded into our feet, meaning “1 pound equates to 4 pounds of pressure across the ankle and foot” (gotofootdoc.com). “And that is for EACH and EVERY pound.”
Balance of Posture
With that amount of stress on our bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints, it’s no surprise traditional shoe companies want to place as much padding, cushion, arch support, and shock-absorbing rubber between the ground and your foot. They believe the less you feel beneath you, the happier your feet will be, but to achieve this, they must bend, taper, elevate, and insulate your natural, barefoot posture to fit their manufactured design. A tilted, angled, or compressed foot no longer evenly distributes weight from toe to heel but leaves the pressure to fall to a singular spot, which can lead to bunions, plantar fasciitis, even back pain.
If traditional footwear adjusts our natural stance, the subtle tilts of a heel or narrow toe-box echo throughout the legs, spine, neck, and shoulders. "The toes are critical for our sense of balance,” Dr. Ray McClanahan, a podiatrist at Northwest Foot & Ankle and creator of Correct Toes explains. “When our toes are not properly spaced and grasping the ground, our legs and upper bodies are forced to make compensations for the instability of our toes and our gait is less balanced and less efficient.”
When we whip off our shoes after a long day, the joy our feet express comes from the freedom to stretch and bend without obstruction. We plant our feet normally. We stand naturally. We step with the weight of our bodies evenly balanced throughout our movements. This is the power of our bare feet, and not only can we experience it for free, but many of us are already feeling what a day without shoes feels like.
More time at home. More time for bare feet.
“Research suggests that as of January 2022, 59 percent of workers with jobs that can be done from home have chosen to work remotely” (shape.com). “If you're spending all your time indoors, you might sometimes feel like you've basically never worn shoes — feet can be freed from their cages at home, after all.”
Small changes, like removing our shoes, can have profound impacts on how our bodies move, heal, and strengthen.
“Going barefoot forces you to use your foot muscles — both extrinsic and intrinsic — more than when they're supported by shoes. The foot's extrinsic muscles originate above the ankle and insert into various parts of the foot, allowing for movements such as pointing the top of your foot away from your leg, raising your foot toward your shin, and moving your feet from side to side. Intrinsic muscles are found within the foot area and take care of fine motor movements such as flexing your toes and staying balanced as you walk.”
While national Go Barefoot Day is only one day out of the year, there is always an opportunity to leave your bed in the morning and return to it at night without ever wearing shoes: the 24-Hour Barefoot Challenge.
Are you up for the challenge?
For some of us, going 24 hours without shoes is achieved several days a week, but for others, this can be a difficult task. It may take planning and a full Saturday or Sunday, but we challenge everyone to leave their shoes in the closet and experience what a full day of lounging, standing, walking, sitting, exercising, and everything in between feels like when toes are free, heels are planted, and balance is restored.
Once you have lived a day in the life of an unencumbered foot, you will have a glimpse into what we mean when we describe SOM shoes as barefoot-feel footwear.
Through our wide toe-boxes, versatile materials, and zero drop, flexible soles, we create a similar sense of foot freedom, while providing durable protection to work, hike, bike, and navigate life’s unpredictable terrain.
To feel barefoot while inside shoes for the first time can be liberating, but it can also be an adjustment, especially if you have worn restricted footwear your entire life. Books like Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman, simple exercises, and the act of taking it slow are excellent ways to begin your minimalist journey.
We believe in restoring and improving the health of your feet one step at a time, and regardless if you are wearing SOMs for casual or sporty use, you will be living the benefits of the 24-Hour Barefoot Challenge 365 days a year.