I've been a big fan of the barefoot concept for quite some time, but never felt like it was for me. Having been a competitive athlete in two different sports, the intensity of training I put my body through was not conducive to something that would take a slow transition.
As a runner in high school and college, my poor feet withstood many injuries and still carry a fair share of scar tissue to prove it. As a bodybuilder, I was always pushing my body to its limit and protecting my feet from any further injury was a priority so that I could keep moving forward.
These days my athletic goals are not prioritized as they used to be. I spend nearly all my time with my two kids. We are very active together riding scooters and walking a lot, but this level of activity is a joke compared to what seems like my past life.
When I was bodybuilding, I realized my muscle development in my low back was noticeably uneven. I believed it to be the result of a rotation in my hips that I could correct by pushing my right hip up and forward. To correct the muscular imbalance, I would need to be able to make this correction during heavy lifts like squats and dead lifts, but it was not possible. As soon as my body was under the heavy load, it slipped into what it was used to. I had to start over by warming up with what felt like no weight. My work sets became what I used to warm up with. It felt like a step backward, but as I worked my way up to heavy sets again, my back showed obvious improvemnets.
Although I have taken a big step back on my athletic intensity, I think I'm moving forward this time with a new set of feet. I started by wearing my almost ten year old vibrams as much as I could stand mostly around the house. I wore my Keens sandals when my feet got too worn out. This went about a week before I ordered a new pair of vibrams with a medium amount of support. I thought of these as my new tennis shoes and immediately started wearing them all the time. My old vibrams became my slippers. I was surprised at how my feet felt sore like they had a hard workout instead of feeling broken. It was working out great, but my toes felt claustrophobic. I needed more barefoot shoe options!
One of the two companies I discovered is called Vivobarefoot. I found the Achilles Sandal on sale possibly because it seems to be discontinued so I thought I'd try it. The sole was so thin and hard that I knew I could not have handled it before, but now it felt pretty great. Maybe the model was discontinued because the material that cupped the toe was too rigid or because the elastic that wrapped the ankle and top of the foot was so tight that the Velcro comes undone periodically. I'm not sure, but it makes for a shoe I can't count on since it will come undone while I'm walkin. It's really a shame because they are super cute. I plan to have the Velcro closure sewn shut, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
The last company I finally gave a shot is Xero shoes and I am glad I did because they are the most barefoot feeling barefoot shoes I have now. I was hesitant to order them because the ones that would best fit my needs was the DYI kit, so if I mess them up, it's a complete waste. They come with a hole punch so you can make the how between your toes. Then you have to thread the laces through and tie them up. So I took a chance, and it paid off.