Authored by Kate Beswick in Shoes and Accessories
Published on 11-29-2009
Negative heel shoes are shoes that have been developed so that the heel sits lower than the balls of the feet. Traditional shoes have the heel sitting slightly above the ball of the foot, putting pressure mostly on the sole and the toes. Negative heel shoes however, place all of the pressure on the heel of the foot, so that when walking, the heel of the foot meets the ground first. This is thought to improve spinal alignment as well as improve the health of the joints and bones. Not only are negative heel shoes different in design when it comes to the heel and toe, these shoes are also often made to be a bit wider at the front of the foot so that the toes won’t become crowded.
Danish yoga instructor Ann Kalso first created negative heel shoes in the 1950s, trying to mimic the mountain pose. This relieves pressure from an individual’s back, knees, and hips and redistributes it back to the leg muscles, which are more equipped to handle the weight.
The craze over negative heel shoes made its way to the United States in the 1970s, after becoming very popular in the hippie culture. They were sold under the name “Earth Shoes.” The trend didn’t last very long and fizzled out sometime in the 80s.
They have recently seen a rise again in popularity, partly because they are still sold under the brand name “Earth Shoes” and this appeals to a larger audience as people start to become more environmentally-conscious. And because people are also beginning to become more aware of health and fitness, they are also starting to see the physical and exercise benefits negative heel shoes have.
Because negative heel shoes have a lower heel and a higher sole, it feels to the wearer as though they are walking on a constant incline. This can take awhile to get used to. Not only is it a constant workout but, because the foot is sitting differently muscles that aren’t usually used for walking are constantly being worked and used. The calf muscles are also stretched when walking in negative heel shoes and this can also take some getting used to. But feeling this slight difference in walking also helps burn calories while they’re worn, which also makes it a constant exercise regime.
For those who can’t tolerate a hard workout, negative heel shoes can be worn throughout the day and have much the same effect that a hard workout would. This is because even just standing still in the shoes places bones, joints, and the spine all in proper alignment. This does wonders for bone health and can be a great relief for those who find that they have particular problems with things like joint or back pain.
While Earth Shoes still sells negative heel shoes, many other manufacturers are starting to realize the health benefits of these types of shoes. They come in many designs, patterns, and colors. So now everyone can be comfortable while they walk, and look great too!