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Barefoot walking - the technique briefly explained

Anyone who is familiar with the technique of barefoot walking will quickly understand why shoes with thick soles, high heels and a narrow cut are not good for your health and why it is better to switch to barefoot shoes.

To help you recognise the benefits of barefoot shoes, we would like to briefly explain the basics of barefoot walking.


The basics of barefoot walking

Barefoot walking may sound like a new trend, but far from it. Rather, it is a return to natural walking. 


A natural gait is centred around stability and safety, regardless of running speed, surface or weather conditions. When walking barefoot, the anatomy of the foot and the nerve tracts running through it provide us with all the necessary conditions for a safe and joint-friendly gait. Nature has given us everything we need for this. 

Walking barefoot trains important muscle groups, strengthens the back and promotes blood circulation. In addition, walking barefoot allows us to absorb electrons, which we need in sufficient quantities for a strong immune system. You can read more about the last topic under the keyword Grounding or Earthing.

Basically, the following three aspects of walking barefoot can be emphasised:


Intrinsic feedback via nerves

The sole of the foot has the highest concentration of nerve endings. When walking barefoot, movement sequences can be perceived and regulated via these nerves. 

Different surfaces, from slippery, soft, warm and cold to uneven or bumpy, are perfectly sensed when walking barefoot and transmitted via the nerve pathways. The sequence of movements is intuitively adapted in order to always walk safely and stably and to ward off danger.


Movement control via the big toe

The human foot is incredibly complex in its structure. It consists of 36 bones, 33 joints and over 20 muscles. In its natural form, the foot has a V-shape and is wide apart at the front, as the toes are not tightly packed together.


The big toe is particularly important for walking. It provides balance when walking barefoot, controls movement and ensures stability. You can see at first glance that the big toe plays a central role, as it is significantly larger than all the others. In its natural form, it is particularly strong and protrudes slightly outwards. This is the only way the big toe can fulfil its intended function to perfection. 

Studies show that the feet of people who walk barefoot a lot not only have a natural V-shape, but are also significantly wider than those of people who constantly walk in shoes that are too tight. This impressively shows that the feet of barefoot walkers have retained their natural anatomical shape and have significantly stronger muscles..


Natural shock absorption via muscles and tendons 

When walking barefoot, the anatomy of the foot provides natural shock absorption. Shock-absorbing shoes are absolutely superfluous.  

The arch of the foot behaves like a spring when moving, it can expand and contract to absorb shocks. The so-called windlass mechanism causes the longitudinal arch to straighten and stabilise the foot when walking, running and jumping.  

Nature has also given us a small cushion of fat on the heel, which provides additional shock absorption when we step. 

With this knowledge, you probably want to take off your shoes immediately and continue walking barefoot. You may feel pain in your muscles, tendons and joints after a short time.  

Through years of wearing shoes that are far too tight, we have forgotten our natural movement when walking. The muscles have atrophied and even the rolling motion seems to be quite awkward at first. We need to slowly get used to walking barefoot and ideally do special exercises to relearn the natural gait without shoes.


Problems caused by conventional footwear

Today, shoes are considered an important fashion accessory. For many wearers, appearance is more important than health. The shape of the shoes is usually far too narrow and most models are far too pointed at the front. Over the years, our feet have become accustomed to being squeezed into the shoe. Many people don't even realise that this changes the natural shape of their feet. 

Anyone who has internalised the basics of barefoot running will quickly understand why barefoot running is so healthy and why modern footwear with thick soles, cushioning properties and a cut that is far too narrow can cause health problems.


The anatomy of the foot is altered by wearing such shoes and the nerve tracts lose contact with the ground. As a result, the foot muscles atrophy and intrinsic feedback is completely lost. The entire gait pattern changes due to the lack of foot muscles and the loss of information that we perceive via the nerve pathways. Modern shoes, with all their characteristics, cause us to develop an incorrect walking style. Our steps become larger and we no longer roll properly. The foot is permanently constricted and the important foot muscles atrophy. This results in various anatomical changes such as flat feet, fallen arches, splayfoot or even hallux valgus. 

If the foot changes its natural shape, this also has consequences for the entire body. Walking without your usual footwear feels unstable and simply not good, even though it is the most natural form of locomotion. It is quite common that the causes of back pain, knee and hip joint problems or slipped discs lie in the foot. 

Unfortunately, the risk of injury during sport also increases if the foot, with all its marvellous properties, no longer works properly due to the lack of muscles and weak ligaments and tendons. 


The very best thing for a healthy anatomy would be to walk barefoot all the time. As this is not always possible in our modern society, you should opt for footwear that ensures that the natural movement sequence and ground contact are maintained. With ZAQQ barefoot shoes you can achieve exactly that.


ZAQQ Barefoot Shoes support the natural gait


Barefoot shoes support intrinsic feedback

The sole of our ZAQQ barefoot shoes is so thin and flexible that impulses are transmitted to your nerve pathways. The intrinsic feedback is passed on despite the shoe and ensures that you can intuitively adapt your movement sequences as you would when walking barefoot.


Barefoot shoes enable movement control via the big toe

ZAQQ barefoot shoes have a wide toe box. This allows your foot to move in the shoe in its natural anatomy. The toes have enough space to spread out in a V-shape and the big toe can easily balance and stabilise movements, just as nature intended.


Maintaining and building muscles as a natural shock absorber

If you have strong muscles and tendons, you don't need shoes with shock absorption. Shock absorption is inherent in every healthy person. The requirement for this is a natural gait in order to put the muscles and tendons under constant strain.

In ZAQQ barefoot shoes, your foot has enough space and can roll and move as nature intended thanks to the thin, highly flexible sole. As a result, you train your foot muscles with every step and strain your tendons and ligaments in a natural way.

It goes without saying that our thin and flexible barefoot soles have no arch support. Just like when walking barefoot, there is no difference in height from the heel to the ball of the foot in our barefoot shoes.


Switching to barefoot shoes

When you start walking in barefoot shoes after years of wearing conventional footwear, your muscles and tendons first have to get used to the new strain. You may experience sore muscles or even slight joint or back pain. As with any other training, your foot muscles need to build up slowly and get used to the new strain.

Don't make the mistake of trying to do too much. Make sure you give your body time to adapt to the new demands. Your foot muscles and the associated tendons and ligaments have probably not been used properly for years and have atrophied as a result. 

It is best to try to walk without shoes as often as possible to build up your muscles. The easiest way to do this is on a soft meadow or on the beach. Later on, you can tackle terrain that demands more from your feet. 

If you want to switch to barefoot shoes but have not yet trained your foot muscles, it is advisable to only wear them for a few hours at first and increase the impact from day to day. This allows the tendons and ligaments to get used to the strain and the foot muscles to build up slowly. Only with strong muscles and stable ligaments and tendons will you develop a natural and joint-friendly gait.

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  • Gibt es auch Überlastung bei Barfußschuhen, z.B. an den Fußballen?

    Hallo Anja,

    vielen Dank für die sehr gut ausgeführte Erklärung, warum Barfußlaufen dem ganzen Körper so gut tut.

    Ich selbst benutze Barfuß-Schuhe seit einem halben Jahr und hatte anfangs auch mit Muskelkater in den Waden zu tun.
    Nach einer Weile möchte man am liebsten keine konventionellen Schuhe mehr tragen!

    Anfangs habe ich den Fehler gemacht, die Schuhgröße etwas zu knapp auszuwählen, da die Schuhe vorne deutlich mehr Raum lassen. Das war aber ein Fehler, den ich schnell behoben habe.
    Nun wäre meine Frage: wir alle sind ja mit zu schmalen Schuhen aufgewachsen und viele von uns haben bereits Senk-/ Spreizfuß oder andere Fehlentwicklungen, die möglicherweise nicht mehr rückgängig machbar sind.
    Kann es dann eventuell zu Überlastungen mit den Barfußschuhen kommen, z.B. zu einer Überlastung des Fußballens?

    Freundliche Grüße