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Shoes Matter

Free your feetIt’s summertime, and the thing I love about the summer is that I get to spend so much more time barefoot. As many of you know by now, I am an enthusiastic barefoot advocate. I believe that a barefoot lifestyle is important for health, wellness, and a lifetime of pain-free movement. Which is why I’m offering my summer shoe review for 2016.

Going barefoot is not without risk. There are times, based upon terrain or circumstance, when shoes are necessary. These circumstances may include the Hill Country’s unforgivingly rocky hiking trails combined with lurking thorns and thistles … and, of course, the need to walk into “No Shirt No Shoes No Service” businesses.

Funny thing: Prior to transitioning into a barefoot lifestyle, I basically owned two pairs of shoes — basketball shoes and non-basketball shoes. Over the past six-plus years that I have embraced a barefoot lifestyle (I am completely barefoot 90% of the time), my shoe wardrobe has greatly expanded.

Like tools, my shoes have taken on functional purposes. I have a tool for every job. I have trail sandals for most running, climbing, jumping, sprinting, and just overall challenging movement; casual sandals for comfortable wear, such as going to the grocery store; dressier shoes; cold weather wet shoes; cold weather dry shoes; and more. For someone who is barefoot as much as I am, I have quite the shoe collection!

FLIPPIN’ AND FLOPPIN’

images-2This time of year, most people reach for their trusted flip-flops. These are, in my opinion, one of the worst shoe choices you can make. The lack of a simple heel strap to keep the shoe attached to your foot means that with every step you take you must grip your toes just to keep the shoe on your foot. This creates an unnatural gait pattern.

For short durations, if you have no significant movement dysfunctions, this may not be a big deal. However, if you already have a history of poor gait mechanics (which most people do), wearing flip-flops for extended periods can create problems. This is especially true in the spring as you are transitioning away from heavy supportive winter boots or shoes which weaken the muscles of the foot. This not only can manifest in foot pain, but can also show up as knee, back, hip, and neck injuries.

DITCH THE FLIP-FLOPS AND OPT FOR QUALITY SANDALS

Summer Shoe Review

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate for many of these products. This means that if you purchase one after clicking one of these links, I will get a small commission. That said, the only reason I am an affiliate for these products is because I believe in them 100%.

Luna Sandals

Luna Sandals - Summer Shoe ReviewI do most of my hiking and running on rocky Texas trails. I haven’t built my barefoot ability to be able to go through miles and miles of gnarly rocks and cactus. Nor do I feel it necessary to become that hardcore barefoot. I need something to protect my feet. When I do need to wear shoes, I want it to be the least amount of shoe possible. That is why I love Luna sandals.

The Luna sandals are my go-to for the trails. I own the Leadville model, and I love them because they are incredibly secure on my feet. The nylon strap on them is perfect for regular running, trail running, climbing, tracking, traversing. The last thing I want when I’m bounding through rocky terrain is for the shoe to slip and to lose traction between the shoe and myself. The strap doesn’t stretch or give, so I keep the shoe fairly tight on my foot. I wear these shoes 6-7 months a year for more extreme movement.

The downside of this sandal is that the strap and buckle system aren’t super comfortable. They bite into the top of my foot a bit, not something I want in casual footwear for restaurants and grocery stores where shoes are required. In addition, I am not a fan of their Monkey Grip Technology (MGT) footbed. The MGT took a long time to break in and creates hot spots under my feet. I prefer the leather footbed option.

Earth Runner Sandals

Earthrunner Sandals - Summer Shoe ReviewEarth Runners Sandals are my go-to for everything else. These are plush comfortable sandals, and the soft leather strap and buckle system feels super comfy on my foot. They also look nice, so you can get away with wearing them to casual events. I get tons of compliments on these sandals. When you need a shoe that looks good, feels good, and is comfortable, these are great sandals.

Overall, I don’t have any major complaints when it comes to these shoes. I did find that the super thin sole took a very long time to break in. Since I don’t wear shoes much, it took even longer. With daily wear, I’d expect it to take between 2-4 weeks to fully break these shoes in.

Also these sandals are exclusively casual wear for me. Because the leather has a “stretch” to it, I don’t wear them for outdoor activities. If I’m running, climbing, or jumping, the sole has a tendency to slide out from under my foot. I need the sole to remain solid under my foot.

Earth Runners also make children’s sandals, custom-made based on a tracing of your child’s foot.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED A FULL SHOE

Even in Austin, you occasionally need a full shoe for more formal occasions.

Soft Star Shoes - Summer Shoe ReviewSoft Star Shoes

I have the Soft Star Shoes Rogue model, and I love them. They have a Vibram TM rubber sole, and a sheepskin-lined footbed. Basically a moccasin style shoe, these are easy to slip on and off, and they keep my feet warm for chilly Texas winters and relatively dry when it’s wet. They’re not super fancy or stylish; they are just nice comfortable shoes.

These are also incredible for kids. Early walkers need shoes on their feet to keep them warm (and of course, shoes are required for school), but you especially want children to really feel the ground and interact with it as they’re learning. If a shoe interferes with your child’s development as they learn how to walk, the effects will last into adulthood.

Vivobarefoot Shoes

Vivobarefoot shoes - Summer Shoe ReviewI have several different pairs of Vivobarefoot shoes, and my son has their rainboots and daily wear shoes. These are really comfortable shoes, and they carry a number of styles, from more casual to dressier shoes. These are shoes you can really live in. I have their running, casual, and dress shoes. Honestly, the only downside is that they are pretty pricey. But they do hold up well and give you the options you need.

Do you have a barefoot/minimalist style summer shoe review that you love. I’d love to hear about it. Please share and tag me through social media.

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