Beginner’s Guide to Getting Your Feet in Barefoot Shoes
By Anya Jensen
If you’re into functional movement you’ve probably heard of barefoot shoes. When natural movement is your goal, barefoot shoes just make sense! But practically speaking, being committed to healthy footwear poses some challenges. You don’t see shoes that meet barefoot requirements when you go to the store or browse online. In fact, it can be extremely difficult to find minimalist or barefoot shoes if you don’t know where to look. So if you’re thinking healthy feet means being stuck with a handful of awkward looking options, you need this post!
Read on for a guide to finding brands, picking styles, and painlessly ordering barefoot shoes that are right for your feet.
What Is A Barefoot Shoe?
Let’s recap what a barefoot shoe is. We’re talking about shoes that let your feet move as if barefoot. They are shaped like feet, completely flat, and flexible enough to bend with your foot. If you wear shoes and you want your feet to function your entire life, barefoot shoes are relevant to you.
Get To Know Your Feet
Since you’re probably going to be ordering your barefoot shoes online, it pays to get to know your little piggies beforehand. Feet are as unique as the humans they’re attached to, so just because something is “healthy” doesn’t make it right for you. Here are some things you want to think about when looking at shoes.
Brands by Foot Type
Understanding how your foot is shaped will make shopping so much easier. Above you see an image of some common foot types and examples of shoes that work well for them.
Different brands cater to different foot types. So rather than try shoe after shoe and end up frustrated, start out with one that makes sense for the kind of foot you have! Read the post below for lots of detailed info on different types of feet and the brands that work best for them.
Measure Your Feet
Think you know your shoe size? Feet change over time, but most of us buy the same shoe size for years without checking. I recommend against ordering your usual size if you’re looking to get some barefoot shoes. Instead start fresh with no preconceived notions of what size you wear!
The Wall Method is the most accurate way to measure your feet. For a video and full instructions on how to measure your feet, check out the post below.
Pro Tip: If you plan to wear toe spacers or socks inside your shoes you’ll want to measure your feet while wearing them!
Cushion or No?
Barefoot shoes run the gamut of a few mm to 1.5 cm thick. When I first got into barefoot shoes I felt like I needed the thinnest soles possible to be authentically “barefoot.” But my body was not ready! I hobbled around for the better part of a year until I discovered insoles. Fast forward a few years and my feet now love the thinnest of soles.
Buying shoes for the feet you have today makes for a more comfortable transition to barefoot shoes. If those feet are adapted to lots of support, starting your barefoot journey in shoes with cushion (but are still minimalist in all other respects) is appropriate. A few minimalist brands with extra cushion are Altra, Lems, and Oesh. For a full list of brands with cushion, check out the post below!
Pro Tip: Take an ultra barefoot shoe and add in an insole, then you can remove the insole when you no longer need it without needing to buy more shoes!
Barefoot Shoes by Region
One of the most exciting things about the barefoot movement is that it is global: Barefoot shoe brands dot the world! And most of them ship internationally. But you might want to start with something local to avoid the hassle (and expense) of overseas purchases. As you get to know your feet and preferences you’ll be more comfortable venturing out, there’s no need to feel limited. Check out my list below of barefoot shoe brands by region of the world to get started
Pro Tip: I always use PayPal for barefoot shoe purchases in case I need to make a return, because PayPal will reimburse return shipping costs several times a year (not to mention they provide protection in case the order goes awry).
Barefoot Shoes by Category
And finally, here are a few lists of shoes by category. Once you’ve decided to make the switch to barefoot shoes it can take time to find practical options that fill every category of your life. These lists will help you find the type of shoe you need to really get the most bang for your buck.
Pro Tip: Start by swapping out the type of shoe you wear most often. If you spend 8 hours a day in dress shoes and only wear trainers a few times a week, it makes sense to find a barefoot approved dress shoe first.
Making the switch to barefoot shoes is easier said than done, but boy is it worth it! When you combine natural footwear with a movement-centered lifestyle you are setting yourself up for a pain free life. So join the growing community of people who are demanding healthy shoes for their feet and looking good doing it!
Anya is a shoe and style lover who found her way to healthy footwear after years of chronic pain. Once she got a taste of toe freedom there was no looking back! She’s been on a mission ever since to make it easy to choose foot health through an online barefoot shoe store and shoe reviews. Subscribe to Anya’s Reviews to stay in the loop on all things barefoot!
Get Petra's Fix Your Feet bootcamp, and get started on a lifetime of happy, healthy feet today!
Plus you'll get my weekly newsletter, packed with movement tips, free goodies, and updates from our world travel adventures!