You don't need barefoot shoes to start walking differently.

post by Kevin · 2010-10-15T06:41:34.772Z · score: -3 (12 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 16 comments

I bought into the hype and decided that I was going to get a pair of Vibrams. My intention was not to use them as running shoes, but as everyday walking shoes. Then my girlfriend told me that I wasn't allowed, that they were too hideous to be worn in public. In almost two years together, this is the only thing that she has forbidden me from doing, and I regularly do completely ridiculous things so I deferred to her judgement. I thought about getting barefoot dress shoes but $150 seemed excessive.

I then decided that I didn't need fancy shoes to stop walking heel first. I started wearing a pair of casual brown slip-on shoes with a fair amount of cushioning but little support. From the start, I thought it felt good to actually walk on the balls of my feet.

It took three weeks for my feet to stop hurting, but now I naturally walk on the balls of my feet. You can do the same thing. It will probably be easier in a light pair of shoes rather than a clunky pair of dress shoes or boots.


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comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-10-15T17:46:29.175Z · score: 14 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What evidence exists that this alternative way of walking is "proper" in some objective sense?

Also, how does it influence your gait? Your gait is one of the most important non-verbal social signals you send off, and this must be taken into account when evaluating anything that changes it, for better or worse.

comment by Kevin · 2010-10-19T07:49:59.073Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I edited the title.

It made my gait shorter initially but I have adjusted it. It's possible my gait is now somewhat more feminine but I'd have to get an external opinion on it, and I'm not sure that a more feminine gait is actually a bad thing.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-10-15T15:17:35.252Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have lousy arches and pronate with one foot. I use orthotics. Is it wise for me to try to learn to walk this way?

comment by Kevin · 2010-10-16T00:41:13.884Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I pronate with both feet and have done so less of late, because the conscious effort required to change my walking pattern also got me thinking about walking with my feet pointed forwards.

comment by Bongo · 2010-10-15T16:37:07.422Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I googled "walking on heels vs. balls", and the first several results told me that heel-walking is better than ball-walking, it's just different for running. Where did you find out that walking is better done on balls, too?

comment by Kevin · 2010-10-15T20:08:19.936Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is a recent study talking about energy expenditure -- heel first walking expends less energy. But it is still more impactful on the knees.

comment by jsalvatier · 2010-11-04T15:50:00.699Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Energy (food) is cheap these days and knee replacements are not, so this suggests that balls first walking is better.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-10-15T21:04:52.665Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I walk heel-first when I'm barefoot...

comment by Kevin · 2010-11-04T19:29:56.704Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Update: my girlfriend unforbid me from buying Vibrams and I have been procrastinating about actually buying them.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-05T03:38:43.019Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Check out Soft Star Shoes-- they've got a similar thin sole, but are much more normal looking.

comment by Kevin · 2010-11-05T03:57:46.097Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, but too late. I just came back with toe shoes. From the enthusiast forums, there were claims that the more normal looking ones are worse, that there is some function to the toe subdivisions.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-11-05T10:56:50.241Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There may be some function in the toe version.

I had Vibros-- they felt good in cool weather. The problem for me was that my feet are wide, and when they swelled a bit in hot weather, the shoes became a misery.

I might try going up a size with the toe shoes at some point.

comment by Kevin · 2010-11-05T11:21:27.776Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try the men's version, they are supposed to be very slightly wider than the women's version but otherwise no difference.

comment by NealW · 2010-10-27T21:03:14.184Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You misunderstand the difference between barefoot and shod walking. There really isn't one. The difference is with barefoot running. In this case the forefoot lands first.

comment by Unnamed · 2010-10-16T01:40:04.520Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've seen martial arts shoes recommended as a barefoot alternative. Here's a discussion of minimalist shoes in the Runner's World forums.

comment by mindspillage · 2010-10-15T16:00:26.840Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want a very minimal shoe you might try dance slippers also--some are very inexpensive.