Paleo (Bare) Footwear

Our feet have evolved for going barefoot-our hunter—gatherer ancestors didn’t have footwear. According to evolutionary logic, going barefoot is the healthiest option for our bodies. Unfortunately, barefooting is often impractical. Physical constraints, i.e., sharp objects or cold weather, as well as cultural constraints (“no shirt no shoes no service”) prevent us from going barefoot most of the time. Fortunately, there are some high-quality and affordable products that allow us to have the best of both worlds.

Vibram FiveFingers

Vibram FiveFingers Sport

Vibram FiveFingers "Sport" model

The Vibram FiveFingers are the shoe or sandal equivalent of toe socks. Designed to give you the barefoot experience with the benefits of underfoot protection, they’ll make your feet come alive! There’s nothing better except actually going barefoot. They’re great for outdoor or fitness activities. I like to use them for doing sprints on the grass at the park. You can immediately run faster because the power of your toes and feet are fully unleashed and because your running mechanics improve (no more heel strikes). They also make amazing sandals or watershoes as they’re incredibly grippy (the soles have sipes cut into them, just like snow tires). Very fun to wear!

As Tim Ferriss explains, traditional shoes can be quite harmful to foot health and posture, while barefooting in FiveFingers can bring amazing relief. In his case, it eliminated 10 years of lower-back pain in 2 weeks. Primal living blogger Mark Sisson is also a big fan of the FiveFingers as primal footwear and likes to use them for playing ultimate and doing beach sprints.

Order them online from the Vibram website but be sure to measure carefully as accurate sizing is very important. Canadians can get them from Mountain Equipment Co-op for an even lower price!

Unfortunately, you can’t wear them all the time, either because of cold weather or public reasons like your job. And that’s where the Wysong Ergonomic Insoles come in handy, providing barefoot benefits all in the privacy of your normal shoes.

Wysong Ergonomic Insoles

Wysong Ergonomic Insoles

Wysong Ergonomic Insoles

The Wysong Ergonomic Insoles are designed to emulate the natural foot support of walking in sand. The heel of the insole is missing so that your heel “floats”, relieving the pressure on it. This promotes proper posture and discourages heel strikes in your step. The toes are also cut out to create “toe-grips” which actually makes a big impact by engaging your toes for even more propulsion.

They’re the perfect solution for day-to-day use, where going barefoot or wearing FiveFingers wouldn’t be feasible. They take some getting used to and adjustment to find the right position, but they definitely put out results. Not only are they super-comfortable to wear for standing and walking, they also unleash the power of your feet in athletic activity. You can immediately feel the difference while running or jumping, a feeling of power and swiftness. You’ll feel a new bounce in your step and an urge to go bounding away! Best of all, you can put them in any shoe you want, so you can wear them all the time. I’ve been wearing the Wysong Ergonomic Insoles for almost four years and can honestly say they’re the best health product I’ve ever come across.

Available online from the Wysong website.

Verdict

I was extremely impressed with both of these products and highly recommend them—for health, comfort and athletics. Both are definitely worth a try and are affordable enough to warrant it.

About Autor

I’m an undergrad student ultimately aiming for an economics PhD. In a nutshell, I’m an atheist, market anarchist, and paleo health enthusiast. In other words, I reject God, Government, and Grain.
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One Response to Paleo (Bare) Footwear

  1. justin says:

    Hadn't heard about the Wysong inserts – might need to check those out (though I rarely ever where shoes with laces these days).

    I was recently in Jamaica and I saw a shirt that said "No shoes, No shirt, No problem!" Unfortunately, it wasn't available in my size. According to barefooters.org, there is no law in any state against going barefoot in public, which of course isn't to say that a business might require its customers to be properly shod.

    The other day as I exited the movie theater (Star Trek!) and found it pouring rain outside. I had my KSOs on, so I rolled up my jeans, told my wife to wait for me to pick her up (I'm not usually so chauvinistic, she's just 7 months pregnant!), and just sprinted through the rain to the car. Of course my KSOs almost instantly got soaked through, but I hardly noticed it — they were completely confidence inspiring as I ran through puddles, dodged cars, etc. Contrast that to wearing sandals or flip flops in the rain — running in them in the rain is precarious at best, and ankle-sprain inducing at worst.

    So yeah, I like the VFFs too, which is why I've got a fan site for them :)

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