I was so excited about these shoes, that I originally wrote this article for the companies blog! Check out the original article and learn more about the Paleos by following this link.
Moving Forwards by Taking a Step Back
Why I chose the Paleos:
A year ago I set out on a mission to save my feet. I was born with a rare connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My body is held together with a different type of glue. When I move, my muscles have to work in overtime to make up for the laxity of my tissue. Wearing shoes has always made the pain and problems in my feet worse. Having floppy feet is hard enough, without having to deal with a shoe flopping around on my foot. I have added difficulty with movement when my range of motion is impaired. Shoes restrict the normal motion of my toes. Shoes prevent anyone from properly utilizing their toe muscles. This puts added stress on the ankle joint. After so many years of ankle sprains, I stopped walking correctly.
As a toddler, my parents couldn’t keep me from throwing off my shoes at any chance I got, and twenty years later not much has changed! So, on this mission to save my feet, I discovered the Paleo Barefoot shoe. This shoe is truly the answer to much of my foot’s suffering. After months of intensive research into the barefoot movement, it was clear that the Paleo’s were by far the most advanced and innovative barefoot technology on the market. In fact, I believe they are the only true barefoot shoe available. Most products marketed as barefoot shoes are merely a thick pair of socks. These products are difficult to keep clean and don’t offer many of the proprioceptive benefits found in the Paleo shoes. I received my first pair of Paleos just a few weeks ago, and I can assure you that my life will never be the same! Here’s some information about my Paleo Barefoot experience thus far.
Medical Benefits, Increased Proprioception & Balance:
The Paleo shoes benefit the entire nervous system by increasing proprioception. The shoe is designed to encourage proper alignment and body mechanics of the foot. The chain metal design allows the foot to remain fully mobile while still being protected. With my connective tissue disorder, I struggle with balance. I’ve been wearing the shoes to practice standing on one foot. They are so effective that I’ve even been bringing them to physical therapy with me. My physical therapists are ecstatic about the Paleos and are excited to recommend them to future patients!For the past few years, I’ve only been able to walk barefoot or with bulky ankle braces and orthotics. The braces are difficult to get on and off and over time can cause muscles to atrophy. Having the Paleos as an alternative shoe for short distance walking will allow me to maintain the proper muscles of the foot and ankle that I may otherwise loose over time. In the Paleos I’m able to properly utilize my toes muscles, which help my ankles function better. When walking in normal shoes, I feel like I have to pay attention to keeping the shoe on my foot as I walk. In the Paleos this problem is completely solved, as the Paleo shoe moves perfectly with the foot at all times! After a few weeks in these shoes, I’m starting to think our entire species has forgotten how to properly utilize the foot and is in fact suffering from the advent of shoes. My body is more sensitive to the effects of shoes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t affecting everybody at a certain level. I believe that over time a cumulative life inside of shoes will take its toll on even a healthy body.
The material of Paleos enhances the foot’s natural connection to the Earth and increases proprioception. With the chain metal shoe, I immediately feel an increased awareness of my feet! It’s as if each of the tiny chain metal rings acts as a data point to send extra spatial information to my brain. I think this is how I have increased balance and controlled movement in the Paleos. The chain metal bottom is also what makes this barefoot shoe the most realistic barefoot shoe on the market. When I tried other barefoot shoes, the ones that are more similar to socks, the thickness of the sock between the foot and the ground takes away from the immense proprioceptive benefits I gain with the Paleo shoe.
In physical therapy, I’m now able to balance longer and attempt more challenging exercises, even compared to when I’m in my full ankle braces. At a glance this may seem perplexing and counterintuitive, but I think it shows how crucial proper feedback to the nervous system is, especially when it comes to the feet. These shoes can benefit patients with disorders affecting nerves, muscles, and movement. They can also be used to strengthen muscles of the foot and ankle for athletes or anyone recovering from an injury.
Imagine being able to move freely and sit in yoga posses all day long. After my first day in the Paleos, I realized one of the greatest benefits of these shoes is being able to sit freely without the restrictions and burden of a shoe.
If you are a yoga enthusiast, or regular meditator, you will surely understand how truly freeing this experience can be. I’ve enjoyed using them as a secondary travel shoe for long train rides as they provide the comfort of socks with the protection of a shoe.
Personally, with my joint hypermobility, I always find yoga posses much more comforting and natural than sitting in a chair. I love being able to move my feet freely all day long.
If you’re unsure of when to wear the Paleos, you can easily roll them up and keep them with you at all times! I have a small foot, but my Paleos get down to less than a few square inches.This tiny bundle easily slips into a small purse, bag, or even a larger pocket. I absolutely love the ability to have them with me at all times! They’re perfect for a last minute stop to play Frisbee in the park or going on unplanned outdoor adventures. If the shoes get dirty you can simply throw them in the washing machine! This is one of my favorite features, especially when I use them as a break shoe at the climbing gym. They work well at the climbing gym because they are so easy to take on and off and I don’t have to worry about them getting smelly.
The chain metal protects the foot similar to how knights are protected by armor. Each link is fasted to four different links, leaving only a tiny gap for something sharp to get through. So far, I’ve stepped on pokey sticks, glass and scrap metal without any problems. I think you should be completely safe from anything natural. The only possible injury I would be concerned with is the possibility of a nail, or a wire that would happen to be directly perpendicular to the foot.
In addition to comfort and practically, the Paleos fit with any style. They are simple, sleek and have a trendy minimalistic appearance. They can be dressed up to look elegant and classy, while simultaneously being edgy and steampunk for a more modern twist. When rocking the Paleos, it’s obvious to everyone around that you are in the shoe of the future!
The Barefoot Movement From an Evolutionary Perspective:
After a few weeks of experiencing the Paleos, I’ve learned the true impact that inappropriate footwear are having on our species. The original goal of a shoe was to protect the foot. What we didn’t realize, as a species, was the negative consequences, which would come along with the wearing of a shoe. When we started wearing shoes, our bodies didn’t have enough time to properly evolve and adapt to life in shoes. Regular shoes affect the way we stand and walk. They push us towards unnatural movement patterns and posture. My body happens to be extremely sensitive to these inappropriate movements, but over time everyone’s body is collecting the same damage. Decades of walking in shoes and inappropriate body mechanics play a role in the development of arthritis and lower back pain.
Think of the body as a tower. The foot is the base of our structure and therefore, its function has an effect on every single joint above it. Proper utilization of the foot allows the rest of the joints in our body to function correctly during walking and full body movement. The barefoot shoes facilitate proper function of the foot by allowing the foot to make direct contact with the surface of the ground and by allowing for fill range of motion of the toes, foot, and ankle.
Since wearing these shoes, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the ground beneath my feet. It’s ironic how man’s interference with the earth often solves one problem and creates many more. Walking on the Earth in the Paleo feels like walking on a sponge. Hopping around in the park and truly feeling the crunch of the leaves beneath my toes, I felt a new connection to the planet. The Paleo shoes I bought are the pure version without any paws. As I’ve walked short distances over concrete, the difference between the softness of the earth and the brick of concrete has become even clearer. It’s no wonder our species is suffering from so many joint problems when we are walking around with such impactful surfaces. It’s time for us to realize that to move forwards we are going to have to move backwards. We must re-evaluate all practices in our daily lives and begin to analyze both the positive and negative impacts human innovation has had on our species. I’m certain that man is not meant to wear a shoe, and I couldn’t think of a better alternative than chain metal to provide proper protection. For man invented the shoe in order to protect the foot. Over time, it’s become clear that shoes are causing more problems for everyone’s posture and balance.
This company is a part of the wave of the future. We are bound to see the barefoot movement take off in our lifetime. I would encourage you to give these shoes a try especially if you are suffering from a medical condition, that affects the nerves, muscles, or movement of the foot. I hope that you too will be amazed by the positive effects the barefoot shoe has on your quality of life.