Feet often get short shrift when it comes to health. But your feet are — in a very literal sense! — your foundation.
The ability of the feet to feel and mold to the surfaces below them is critical in two major ways. First is largely a mechanical one. It’s difficult to avoid injury on an uneven surface when the feet don’t have the flexibility to make minor adjustments to “grip” the surface.
The second is closely related but somewhat different in nature. A special sense called “proprioception” helps your body understand where it is in space and how it’s moving. The feedback provided by the thousands of nerve endings in the feet is integral to this sense.
Unfortunately, we “decrease our grip” and “dull our senses” when we wear modern shoes. Through the thick, clunky soles, we can no longer feel the ground.
I’ll get into this a little more (and into some other foot-related issues, as well) in my upcoming course. Right now I want to talk about an option for addressing these issues.
In doing the research for the course, I went in search of companies that make shoes that don’t interfere with proprioception and balance. Softstar was gracious enough to send me the shoes you see here so I could evaluate them for appropriateness to recommend within the course. I do like and recommend them, wanted to share about them here and not just keep them a “secret” for Baby Steps students.
There are a handful of companies that make more foot-friendly shoes than the general mainstream manufacturers. And you might want to look at several of them; every company has different styles, and every wearer has different style preferences. But let me tell you why I love Softstar: of all the shoe companies I’m aware of anywhere, they make the closest thing to a traditional moccasin, in modern styling.
Have you ever seen those darling baby/toddler moccasins, and thought, “why doesn’t anybody make these in grownup sizes?” Well, Softstar does. (They also have baby shoes, but they’re the only company I know of that doesn’t stop at baby shoes. They make the whole spectrum.)
The shoes shown above are DASH RunAmocs. I like them because they’re styled similarly to sneakers, so they don’t look really “weird,” like more traditional moccasins can. (The PRIMAL RunAmocs, new this year, look even more like sneakers, and I like them even better, aesthetically.) They also have other styles, including Mary Janes (“Merry Janes”) and sandals, if you’re looking for something a bit dressier.
There’s even a customization option, so you can have your shoes made to order in exactly the colors you want!
So let’s talk about the actual shoes. These are buttery soft leather. They’re basically a leather moccasin that ties; with a thin sole added. (Custom shoes can be made without the added sole if you prefer.) Because they give so much, I think they’re somewhat forgiving on size. You can snug them up well if they’re a little on the larger size, but they’re so flexible they would stretch around your feet if they’re a little on the snugger side — and they have a nice, wide toe box to better match the shape of an actual foot than most modern shoes do. (Who in the world decided that shoes should have pointy toes?!)
They’re sturdy and well-made. They feel kind of like wearing air, and you’d think that feeling “unsubstantial” they’d feel flimsy, but they really don’t. They do take some getting used to if you aren’t already accustomed to this type of shoe. I’m very accustomed to being barefoot, and of course I’m accustomed to typical shoes. But I wasn’t accustomed to feeling like I’m walking barefoot in my shoes.
It’s a difficult sensation to describe. You really can feel everything under your feet — which is a little odd at first because the mind doesn’t associate that feeling with “shoes.”
I even like the laces. That probably sounds silly, but some shoelaces are terrible about constantly coming undone. When I first felt these, I thought they felt like they might be the type of laces that have that problem, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they don’t. Not once yet have I had to retie my shoes because the laces slipped.
If you’re looking for something that will protect your feet from adverse weather and hazards such as glass, but still allow your feet to feel and move as they’re meant to, you can’t beat Softstar shoes.
(Sorry I don’t have any pictures of me wearing the shoes. I’m the one who wields the camera, so it’s a bit of a challenge getting pictures of me.)