There has been a steady increase in the release of a new kind of footwear: the barefoot shoe. Many more are set to appear this spring, with enthusiasts using them for everything from hiking to lifting weights. Time will tell whether these are just a passing trend, but many believe they are the next step in fitness footwear. Companies such as New Balance, Merrell and Fila have released minimalist collections, with Vibram offering the distinctive FiveFingers, which has space for individual toes and a 2mm rubber sole.
These barefoot shoes promise many health benefits including a strengthening of the calf, core and foot muscles, changing a person’s gait and improving body posture. They also improve the range of motion of the ankles and the feet. With a thinner sole, receptors in the feet receive better information about the surface, which trains the body and improves balance and agility. The lack of a heel distributes body weight and improves spinal alignment.
[via L.A. Times]