I first encountered a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes while at an event in Wales. As a lover of footwear, something about these shoes caught my eye. I don’t even know what it is about them that became a conversation icebreaker. The young lady who had the vivobarefoot shoes gave a detailed explanation of what they were and why she loved them. She also gave some tips about what should be considered when one gets a pair of these. Her feet had not instantly warmed up to her first pair.
Once she was used to them, nothing else felt the same. The main selling point as far as she was concerned was how they allowed her to be on her feet for long days, without the pain she had felt with other shoes. A good example of this is how we often get home and want to immediately get out of our shoes. There is something deeply telling about that. Comfort is enhanced in our natural state.
When we parted ways, I swore to myself that I would go away and look into them, so I did.
What is the science behind vivobarefoot shoes
As with a lot of things nowadays, humans have evolved so much that we are returning to where we started. The things that we once considered to be progression and better for us, are being questioned. Footwear is one of these things. Decade after decade shoes have evolved. From the revolutionary shoes that were thrown into the market by Adolf “Adi” Dassler. The emphasis has increasingly been on comfort. How can we make our feet more comfortable?
Our needs have also evolved, as human physique has also changed. This meant that there was a greater emphasis on the need for more cushioning to be placed on shoes, as there was added pressure on our feet. As you can imagine, more cushioning meant that we felt more comfortable.
Most footwear is built with use in mind. The sports shoes are made to enhance performance for that particular sport. What of just walking?
What is our natural state?
With evolution as a basis, we know that our bodies change to match conditions that we are exposed to. This is the same for our feet. When a child starts walking, they often walk on their forefoot. The forefoot offers a greater resistance to pressure from the ground. So, the grown ups step in. The child is soon used to walking on their whole foot, with the cushioning of shoes. Naturally we become dependent to this cushion, and the rest of our lives are lived that way. Our feet are made with a lot of sensory nerves. The higher the cushioning the less we feel.
Barefoot shoes also known as zero drop shoes allow our body weight to be spread evenly across the entire foot. The foot is built for balance. When we interfere with this, we rob ourselves of evolution. Elevating our feet transfers pressure to other parts of our body. This is the reason why a lot of women who spend years in high heeled shoes are more likely to end up with back pain. There are countless studies to this effect. Here’s one. Perhaps even more powerful is the likelihood that you know someone who suffers from back pain or other health issues associated with wearing high heels.
High heeled shoes greatly affect the lumbar curve, increase loading on tibialis anterior muscle and also disturb the center of mass of body. High heels shoes also cause increased weight bearing on toes, ankle sprains and leg and back pain. [Research Gate]
Even the more conservative opinions in the medical field encourage airing on the side of caution.[CFSC]
This would perhaps leave you wondering about trainers, seeing as most men do not wear high heeled shoes. Although there is less of a lift in most trainers. Only zero drop shoes allow your foot to be in the natural state for which it was created. This allows it to feel the ground, and learn to tolerate it.
A study by Dr D Casey Kerrigan and colleagues from the universities of Colorado and Virginia showed that there is an increased torsion on the knees and other joints when wearing trainers. Barefoot shoes/minimalist shoes minimise this problem. [NHS] [AAPSM]
For runners, zero drop shoes have been proven to enhance the strength of the plantar flexor within the foot. [NCBI]. It is also comforting to understand that there is no change to the technique of a runner when they transition from common running shoes to barefoot running shoes. Over time there is change in ground time and stride rate, as a compensating mechanism as the foot adjust to the new environment.[NCBI]
From a human logic position, you would think that this would be fairly obvious. The reason we encourage ourselves and others to workout is to enhance the strength of our bodies. The more we are cushioned, the weaker we are. The old example about helping a cocoon breakout into a butterfly. Even with the best of intentions, we hinder the natural way of things.
In the Wild
If you go in the wild, you will find that elephants are taken to the lions as a way to graduate into adulthood. The eagles release their young from high nests. They don’t graduate until they can use their wings to hold themselves up. Why do we interfere with the foot’s natural way? The reason is simply because this is the way that things have been done for so long. The goal should be to let our kids use their barefoot from the start. Vivobarefoot has a great range of kids footwear, which you should try.
Where are vivobarefoot made
Vivobarefoot shoes are designed in London and handcrafted and hand cut in Portugal. There is a great emphasis on quality, within the company.
Vivo was founded by Galahad Clark, comes from a long line of cobblers in Somerset England. The company trades out of the UK, and is consistently expand its reach. As the shoes grow in popularity, there is a higher demand from across the pond in the US, as well as from the EU and other parts of the world.
There is a strong collaboration with nature and terrain. Vivobarefoot shoes are put through their paces in various sporting disciplines as well as out in the wild. They are made to be a lifetime companion in whatever you may do. This means that you will be in a state of feeling as though you do not have the added burden of the weight of a shoe, while you have its protection from the elements.
The ethos is that of reconnecting with nature. Taking our feet out of the confinements we have placed them in for so long, and allowing them to be free again. Vivos allow our feet to feel the same way they would have felt when we were born, before we became dependent of cushions and soles.
Another incredible thing that sets Vivo apart from other shoe companies is that they have a vested interest in the environmental effect that our consumerist society has. Their fight is geared towards the large amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans. Vivobarefoot shoes make use of what would have ended up as landfill or in our oceans, to give us beautiful shoes.
Their goal is to become the most environmentally friendly, and sustainable shoe company in the world. For you and I as customers, this means that their shoes are made to last longer. Their eco-suede and eco-canvas manufacturing techniques means that 17 bottles that would have been dumped, end up making a shoe!
Vivobarefoot also have a vegan range of shoes, as well as some that are fully recyclable.
Vivobarefoot Loyalty Program
I love saving money! So, loyalty programs are very important when buying. They offer two things to you and I as customers:
- There has to be some good quality for me to come back, and buy again. They are backing their products.
- I get to save on the next pair.
If you refer a friend, you get added value as well, your pair of Vivobarefoot shoes will cost you less. Better yet, you also get a fiver for you birthday, which you can use towards buying your next pair.
Brand ambassadors also tell you something about who Vivo are as a company. It’s not necessary who these people are, but the wide range that sporting and other disciplines that they come from. That shows us that there is a Vivobarefoot for everyone, if not yet, there is a plan to create one.
He is the race director of THE ÖTILLÖ SWIMRUN WORLD SERIES. This shows you the versatility of Vivo as a shoe manufacturer. If you are a triathlete or swim-runner, you would be assured that a shoe endorsed by Michael Lemmel is worth checking out.
Jennifer is a winning trail runner. She came first at the Bydalen Fjallmarathon over a distance of 50km, and 2nd at the AXA Fjallmarathon over a distance of 44km. So, you know shoe is not just a random trail running enthusiast. An endorsed trail running shoe from her is good enough for me.
Majo is a long distance endurance athlete. He runs, skimos, ice climbs, hikes, mountain bike or road biking, and does all sort of other athletic things in his pair of Vivobarefoot shoes. His shoes are really put through their paces. If there is a Vivo shoe good enough for him, there sure is one good enough for me. It also shows you how comfortable and natural the shoes are, to be able to remain on his feet over long periods, in endurance events.
Sinta is a trainer, movement coach and yoga teacher. As a movement coach, she is very savvy when it comes to barefoot movement. There is a need to unleash our feet, to let them feel. A lot of us may not be in sports, so like Sinta, just giving your foot the care and room it needs to thrive is key.
Maja is a swimrunner. She has been at it since 2012. She won the ÖtillÖ World Championships. She started off like most of us, with padded shoes. Barefoot shoes have allowed her technique to evolve, to be more natural. More than anything, it has allowed her feet to work together with her body weight. She exclusively runs in Vivos. Having been someone who has suffered an injury and recovered from it, we know how important the shoes are to her.
Scott is a multisport endurance athlete. The strength of his feet is very important, as it plays a massive role when it comes to competing for a long time. He was introduced to Vivos by his girlfriend who is also an endurance athlete. After some scepticism, he gave them a try, and has never looked back.
For me the clincher comes from the looks. The reason why I may have been blind to zero drop shoes for such a long time is largely due to sheer disgust. The barefoot shoes that I had seen being paddled for such a long time are simply unattractive. Shoe fashion is of some importance to me. I want my shoe to represent me, to be something that I can feel proud to be wearing.
Most of the other barefoot shoes that I had come across were also not practical or made for day to day use. This is something that Vivo are tackling ever so well. As their range has grown, there are more and more shoes that can fit into our day to day life, without making us feel like misfits. That’s my take on how good vivobarefoot shoes are.
If you are looking to get a pair, be sure to click on the image below.