FAQ: What Are Barefoot-Inspired Shoes?
FAQ: What Are Barefoot-Inspired Shoes?

FAQ: What Are Barefoot-Inspired Shoes?

Barefoot shoes go way back. Like Ancient Egypt way back – when people started protecting the bottom of their feet with thin layers of plant material or animal hides.

But it may not have been until recently that you started hearing about these minimalist shoes. They came back onto the scene with the barefoot running movement, which promotes natural foot movement and greater connection to the ground. These shoes typically have zero drop from heel to toe, keeping the foot in a natural, neutral position, with very little stack height for more ground feel.

Here at KEEN, getting folks closer to nature is what we're all about. And we have a few barefoot-inspired styles that do just that. Our fan-loved CNX sole has a low-profile design and 4mm drop. It's used in the Clearwater CNX sandal for adults, and Seacamp II CNX sandal and Chandler 2 CNX sneaker for kids. Our newest barefoot-inspired design is the KNX sneaker, which brings CNX comfort into everyday wear.

Inspired by a Barefoot Feel

The biomechanical process of the foot involves complex interactions of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments to facilitate movement and support. When walking, the foot goes through a complex cycle that includes heel-strike, mid-stance, and toe-off phases. This cycle allows for shock absorption, weight distribution, and propulsion, enabling the foot to adapt to varying surfaces, maintain balance, and efficiently convert muscular energy into motion. A ton of sensory feedback comes from the foot in this process.

Barefoot-inspired shoes like the KNX can offer several benefits, including promoting natural foot movement, enhancing strength and stability, and providing a better feel of the ground. In addition to the close-to-the-ground feel of the minimal, flexible sole, the KNX has a wide toe box to accommodate the foot's shape and movement of toes for a natural and uninhibited splay.

Low Drop, But Not Zero Drop

A true barefoot shoe has zero drop from heel to toe, meaning the foot is completely flat like you are standing with bare feet on the ground. Our barefoot-inspired shoes have a minimal drop of 4mm. This allows for a slightly more dynamic stance.

We also gave ours contoured arch support. In the end, we took what's great about barefoot shoes, and added protection and comfort for a best-of-both-worlds approach for all-day wear. That's why we call them barefoot-inspired, and we hope they inspire you to get out and feel more of the world around you!

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