One Thing You Need to Know if You’ve Transitioned to Minimal Footwear

_DSC6051One day I was walking down our stairs and  felt a strange pain in the top of my foot that I hadn’t ever felt before. Being the owner of a minimal footwear company and someone who has been wearing said footwear for eight years now, I felt rather self-conscious about the fact that I was experiencing foot pain. I don’t know how many people I have helped over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I have assured other people that they don’t need arch support, padded shoes, etc. Suddenly, one little pain in my foot caused a flood of doubt to come into my mind about everything I’ve built my career on. What if I was wrong and have been misleading people all this time?

I do occasionally ask myself these types of hard questions like, “what if I’m wrong?”. I think it’s important to be open to being wrong. However, this was just a devil on my shoulder trying to bring me down. I know better than to listen to that voice. I know that if I persist and keep moving (literally and figuratively) then the answer will become clear to me eventually.

I’ve been following Katy Bowman and other movement experts over the years and have learned a lot. I have improved my own movement and alignment, but I still find myself with some poor movement habits that persist from previous years of bad movement. I sometimes forget that just because I have improved, it doesn’t mean that I am perfect.

Besides movement and anatomy, I have also had to study lean manufacturing principles so that we can continue to produce our footwear in house. Lean manufacturing is also known as the Toyota Method and was a simple method of production developed by Toyota during a time of financial difficulty in a climate where it was difficult to compete with other car manufacturers. These methods have been instrumental in our ability to stay in business. One of the big principles that I learned was from a Japanese parable about lowering water in a lake. They say if you are sailing in a lake that has large rocks (problems) under the surface of the lake, you want to lower the water levels so that you can see the rocks and navigate around them. In other words, you want a production method that doesn’t hide problems. I’ve found that this is very true when it comes to our bodies!

The fact of the matter is that as you improve anything in your life, you will find that improvement only reveals other problems. This is something that people generally don’t understand and don’t have patience with. I get it, you are supposed to be improving! You don’t want to see new problems surface as you improve! However, you should look at this as a good sign.

The human body is a master at adaptation and sometimes when there is a weakness or imbalance in some area of the body, it will automatically make up for it in some other area of the body. Things like padded footwear really allow those problems to lurk just under the surface! When you work on removing the things that hide the problems including more movement and better alignment, it lowers the water level and reveals problems that your body has been hiding for who knows how long! This is a good thing! It means that now you can address the issue and get it solved rather than just letting it lurk under the water ready to strike when you least expect it!

I was eventually able to figure out what was going on with my foot. My whole point here is to let you know that if you feel that you’ve fully transitioned into minimal footwear and foot pain strikes, rest assured that you’re still on the right path. Anything worth doing will come with some adversity. Don’t give up! If you’re just getting started on the path to transitioning into minimal footwear, don’t be afraid, you will experience changes and some may be a little pain or discomfort, but the results are well worth it! I promise!

Do you have a similar experience with pain after you’ve supposedly transitioned into minimal footwear? If so, please share your experience with others in the comments below!

If you feel that you are ready to jump in and transition to minimal footwear to start improving your overall health then you can check out our footwear here.

About unshoes

Creator and designer of Unshoes minimal footwear.
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7 Responses to One Thing You Need to Know if You’ve Transitioned to Minimal Footwear

  1. Taylor says:

    This post hits home for me. I have been enthusiastically wearing minimalist footwear for the past 7 years, even making sandals for myself on occasion.

    About a year ago a spot on the top of my foot started hurting when the outside of my foot flexed upward. Over the next year it got worse to the point that I no longer wanted to go hiking as much as I used to.

    This past December I underwent foot surgery to remove the bone spur.

    I was open with the podiatrist about my history of minimalist footwear, and every podiatrist I have ever spoken to has a low opinion of minimalist footwear. Maybe they are wrong, but it is worth at least hearing what they have to say as they have dedicated their lives to studying and fixing foot problems.

    I do not know why I developed a foot injury out of nowhere while loving my minamalist footwear. I am now forced to take a hard look at all of my beliefs concerning footwear and admit that I may have been wrong, or at least partially wrong. I do not have the answer for myself yet.

    • unshoes says:

      I’m sorry to hear that you had an injury! It’s no fun!

      I suggest following your gut instinct and listen to your body. You’ll make it through!

  2. Mindy says:

    Might you share what you found was happening in your foot? My guess is metatarsal arch but always good to know the full story. How did you shift your movement to fix. More details would be so kind.

    • unshoes says:

      Hi Mindy, Before I learned about alignment I walked duck footed or toe out. I had started to correct myself slowly but for whatever reason, it was easier to correct my left foot. My right foot wanted to point outward (and still does to be honest). I think that I had learned some bad habits of protecting that foot from a really old injury. I started walking more mindfully so that my right foot was not pointed out so much and I also started consciously putting weight on both feet evenly and not allowing my body to protect the one foot. As soon as I started doing that, I noticed results. It took time, and I still revert back to bad habits sometimes but it’s much better now.

  3. Art B says:

    This post rings true for me. Thank you for posting!

  4. Jenny Piela says:

    This post is so timely! I have been wearing minimal shoes since 2012 and I recently developed/uncovered what is sometimes referred to as “turf toe” in my left foot where it is painful to extend my big toe (especially under weight/pressure) very much. It is giving me a new awareness and appreciation of my feet and toes as I can see and feel the effect it has on my whole body (especially being able to compare it to my fully extendable right big toe). There is definitely part of me that is frustrated and wants to fix it or make it go away, but I’ll continue to listen and learn from what my body is telling me! Thanks for writing this post.

    • unshoes says:

      I’m glad to hear it was timely for you! Hopefully it can help. Turf toe is a new one for me. I’d never heard of it. Keep working and don’t give up! — Terral

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