The Ancient History of Barefoot Shoes
Today, everyone from fitness coaches to stockbrokers are sporting barefoot shoes. Without knowing it, these modern barefoot shoe-wearers are carrying on a tradition that stretches back across generations -- to the first shoes ever made.
Doctors have long understood the health benefits of the minimalist shoes--or no shoes at all--worn by indigenous communities all over the world, from the Solomon Islands to the west coast of Africa. As far back as 1905, medical journals published articles lauding the healthy habit of this minimal footwear. The strong, dexterous feet of traditional shoe-wearers stood in stark contrast to the overlapping toes and grotesque bunions caused by cramming feet into narrow Western shoes. Symptomatic of the “disease of civilisation,” foot deformities were another epidemic spurned by the increasingly unnatural lifestyle of the modern, urbanized world.
Humans first made shoes to protect feet from the elements and rough terrain--from the nearly impenetrable jungle to the burning sand of the Kalahari. Today, barefoot shoes take advantage of breakthrough biomechanical research and high-tech materials, but they stay true to this original purpose. Like traditional shoes worn for centuries, modern barefoot shoes allow feet to retain their natural shape, strength, and range of motion.
Indigenous shoemaking is barefoot shoemaking. And this ancient traditional inspires us to get back to our roots and create barefoot shoes made for modern feet from every walk of life.
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