Body, Sustainability
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New ‘barefoot’ shoes – an old way of walking

When I walk in the streets with my new shoes, people seem to look at me kinda funny. I happily let them take a good look, for the shoes represent a natural way of moving everyone should know about. Besides, I live in a small city, so soon the funny looks will be replaced by recognition and people will simply go ‘oh it’s the woman with the cool shoes’, hopefully followed by a ‘where can I get those?!’.

The shoes I’m talking about are from a company called Wildling. Wildling was born from the observation that kids’ shoes do not allow for a natural movement of the feet and the body, leading to unhealthy feet. That is why Anna and Ran decided to come up with kids’ shoes that do allow for natural movement! Wildling was born.

And I am very happy it did! I have been looking for and awaiting pretty barefoot shoes and Wildling shoes make the cut. I’ve already owned a Vibram Five Fingers pair for over four years, but these shoes I mostly use for running and other sports. I do use them for walking too, because it simply feels amazing, but more ‘normal’ shoes were welcome. (That is, more normal than shoes with five toes.) Also, the Vibram pair is not especially made for winter.

Currently, Wildling produces and sells shoes for size 18-46 – so for adults too! The shoes are unisex. The soles are thin and flexible and protect your feet and allow it to move. Wildling has quite an extensive range of shoes already, with different models for different seasons – including winter! The winter shoes are lined with either a woollen lining or a polyester one. Wildling is based in Germany and the shoes are produced in Portugal. They also use ‘sustainable’ materials like hemp and organic cotton (read their blog post about sustainability here).

Wildling

This image shows the main characteristics of the shoes!

Peacock for autumn/winter

I recently got myself the bright blue Peacock shoes. I originally opted for the more neutral Chamois, but these were sold out at the time and I was so enthusiastic that I could not wait any longer! So then I went for the funky blue ones. Both of these models are made for autumn/winter with a polyester plush and they are vegan.

DSC01738Wildling_HerbstWinter2018-2019_Produktfotos_MalinaEbert_2018_k_1024x1024

So I did not get them as neutral as I imagined at first – but heaven, are they amazing! I am so wildly enthusiastic. I have been loving my Vibram Five Fingers, but these are great too. I love how the soles are flexible and how the shoes are not squeezing your feet into a form it does not have. The shoes are super soft, partly because of the lining. They remind me of indoor lounge shoes or slipper, but with a better fit and a better sole!

Normally, as soon as I step into my house, or any house, I gladly take off my shoes. These shoes stay on. They are just so comfortable! I love wearing them because I love how it feels.

Walking and running

Concerning walking, it’s amazing how different wearing these shoes feels from wearing conventional shoes. It really is. I am used to not wearing shoes indoors, so that feels naturally. But each time I go outside with these shoes (or my Vibram’s) I am struck with how shoes affect one’s way of walking. I was used to walking very fast and with little attention to how I used my legs and feet. I have actually tried to become more conscious about it, but it is simply impossible with firm conventional shoes that do not allow for much movement and sensational input from your feet. With Wildling shoes, however, one is forced to be conscious of one’s way of walking, because you feel the effects in your body. And they aren’t pretty if you’re not doing it well!

The thing is that most shoes have thick, firm soles that restrict the movement of your feet and that ‘dampen’ the sensory inputs of your feet. Many of us were taught to walk and run like this: you land with your heel on the ground and then roll your foot so to end with its ball/front on the ground. In practice, I feel as if this is already a difficult task, because many shoes hardly allow for this rolling to happen. But also, the ‘landing on your heels’-part is very problematic. Each time you land on your heels, this force of landing creeps up to your knees and damages them. Have you wondered why so many people have knee problems? This is why.

Instead, in the natural way of walking, the foot lands on the ball/front, after which the heel comes to the ground. Our feet are meant to be very strong and to, through their movement, absorb a big part of the impact from landing and to lead the remaining energy through the body where it is absorbed by other bouncy movements. This way, the energy does not go damaging your knees, instead it bounces back and can be re-used in your the next move.

This mechanism is also explained in Wildling’s recent blog post. This blog post explores whether our feet are designed to walk on hard or soft surfaces and how they function. They write that ‘our whole leg, from the hip, all the way to the end of our toes, functions like a pogo stick. It’s basically a huge spring that channels energy back from the ground.

Do you experience your leg like this? If not, do you want to?

I have started running with my barefoot shoes four years ago, but sadly I have not had the dedication to become a true barefoot runner. The reason is that in the beginning you have to be careful not to bruise your Achilles heel, so you have to be very patient. I have never been very consistent with sports, so for me this is still work in progress. Nevertheless, I am extremely convinced that this way of running and walking is so much better than using shoes that actually harm you. I love walking barefoot when possible and I love wearing these shoes. It simply feels so much better. I think everyone should know about this and give it a try. You owe it to yourself. (You are worth it!)

In addition, I am very curious to see whether using these shoes more will improve my feet and leg health and posture. This will take some more time for me to find out.

Inspiration

For inspiration in the form of cute families doing outdoorsy things wearing their cute Wildling shoes, visit Wildling on Instagram. I really love the pictures. Seeing them makes me feel somewhat part of the family. The pictures speak to my longing for family and community and my longing to be wild and free, outside. I think this is a great inspiration.

The feel of their website and their shoes speaks to your imagination. Their shoes have animal names like flying fox, little wolf and caterpillar (for real!), but there’s also a red pair called red riding hood and a pink pair called aurora. The stories on the website and in the newsletter are fairy-tale-inspired too. Their blog is cool too btw. Yes yes, lots to do.

So yeah, I am hooked! I am looking forward to seeing this company grow. One concern, for me and I guess for many others, is that ‘barefoot shoes’ may not be work-appropriate. I love my cute funky shoes, but they are not ‘appropriate’ for all occasions. In a recent newsletter, Wildling announced that the Rewild-collection for grown-ups ‘will have an overall design that is more grown-up and understated‘. I am curious to find out in the future! So if you are not yet convinced, please have some patience. Your pair may come to existence next year. 🙂

Note: All images thankfully taken from Wildling website and newsletters & I was not paid to write this post.

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