Movement Quality | The After Effects of a Stroke

Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer from a stroke, resulting in approximately 160,000 stroke-related deaths.

Although the majority of stroke victims survive, they often face one or more post-stroke symptoms — including a reduction in motor function. This can significantly impact one's ability to complete everyday tasks and in turn, reduce their overall quality of life.

If you or a loved one are currently experiencing challenges following a stroke, specifically issues related to walking and/or maintaining balance, there are steps you can take to improve your circumstances.

Image from WebMD

Image from WebMD

Risk Factors and Causes of Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood circulation to the brain is cut off, resulting in a lack of oxygen and ultimately, brain cell death. This is why a stroke is also often referred to as a brain attack.

Once the brain is without blood or oxygen, brain cells begin to die within minutes, resulting in an impaired ability related to thinking, emotional control, movement, and speech.

The most frequent type of stroke is caused by a blockage of blood flow, known as an ischemic stroke. This results from one of three blockages — a clot within a blood vessel located in the neck or brain; a clot that moved from another area of the body; or the narrowing of an artery that leads to the brain.

The second type of stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain or the area surrounding the brain, known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

Although certain risk factors are out of your control, including age, family history, and gender, you can control risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol.

How a Stroke Impacts Motor Function

Stroke is one of the most common causes of physical disability around the world, and approximately 80 percent of survivors experience movement issues on one side of the body.

Most often, paralysis occurs on the side of the body that is opposite to the side where damage within the brain occurred. For example, if a stroke damaged the left hemisphere, the right side of the body will likely experience symptoms of post-stroke paralysis.

While varying areas of the brain may be damaged, resulting in a spectrum of symptoms, issues with posture, balance, and walking occur when the cerebellum is affected.

In this case, some of the most common symptoms include but are not limited to:

•         Balance issues— Issues with balance often occur after a stroke, causing dizziness and an increased risk of falls.

•         Foot drop— This common walking challenge occurs when a post-stroke victim cannot raise the front of their foot due to weakness or paralysis.

•         Incoordination— Numerous variables are at-play in regards to incoordination, including perceptual issues and vision problems, as well as the development of vertigo and ataxia (which involves abnormal, uncoordinated movements).

•         Numbness— Numbness or a tingling sensation can occur, based on impaired sensory input.

Based on these symptoms, in addition to potential vision loss and vestibular system impairment (which controls variables such as balance and spatial orientation), it can be challenging to stabilize oneself and in turn, maintain motor function.

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What You Can Do Following a Stroke to Improve Your Quality of Life

As discussed above, there are many variables that impact walking issues following a stroke. That is why regaining one's mobility after experiencing a stroke is one of the most critical and significant challenges.

In order to regain mobility, specific obstacles must be addressed, which will likely relate to balance and sensation issues. Since a stroke often alters how the central nervous system works, sensory nerves are often hindered in regards to sending messages from the body to the brain, and vice versa.

This is why researchers often focus their attention on noninvasive forms of brain stimulation, with the goal to improve post-stroke gait and enhance neuroplasticity — which is the brain's ability to form new connections. The brain's capacity to do so has been verified in both animal models and humans.

Although stroke complications significantly vary in regards to severity, as well as each individual's ability to recover, learning how to walk again ispossible through targeted stroke rehabilitation.

Physical exercises and therapy

Motor-skill exercises and range-of-motion therapy are both ideal, helping patients improve everything from coordination to muscle strength, all which easing muscle tension.

Many post-stroke patients work with trainers and physiotherapists, focusing on individualized exercise plans. Although many of these exercises focus on the legs and feet, researchers have also found that arm exercises may also improve walking ability months, and in some cases, years after having a stroke.

As stated in this study, "Although the associated walking improvements may not be as robust as other treatment options, arm cycling training can activate interlimb networks — which contributes to rhythmic walking and coordination."

To find out more about the importance of exercise following a stroke, as well as how to incorporate more physical activity into your life, check out this resource from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Technology-assisted devices and therapies

There are a number of innovative devices available, offering the latest in research and technology. Of these devices, Naboso™ Insoles are combining plantar proprioceptive stimulation and barefoot science.

By stimulating the nerves in the bottom of the feet, these textured insoles have been shown to improve balance and posture while having a positive impact on gait patterns and overall motor control.

Another area of interest relates to ankle foot orthosis — or AFO. This approach has been shown to be significantly helpful when aiming to address complications associated with foot drop.

In this case, foot drop may be caused by damage to the nerves, weakness, or both. However, regardless of the cause, foot drop treatment tends to involve AFO in order to provide stability and actively improve gait. An example is the durable and dynamic Noodle AFO.

Electrical nerve stimulation

Various studies have focused on the benefits of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), including this 2018 review, published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Based on seven randomized controlled trials, it was found that TENS is associated with a significant reduction in spasticity, as well as increased walking speed and static balance among stroke patients.

Address Symptoms That Hinder Walking Ability

Although each individual case is unique, and brain damage cannot be reversed, proactive rehabilitation efforts can help you achieve the best long-term outcome, especially in relation to walking.

The likelihood of improvement post-stroke will vary depending on the initial deficit. However, between 65 and 85 percent of stroke survivors relearn to walk within six months of their stroke.

While exercise is the common therapeutic intervention, if a patient exhibits poor posture or balance, this can make treatment strategies much more complicated.

This is why a combination of therapy options are recommended, especially those that are not independent of one another. For example, Naboso™ Insoles target some of the most problematic post-stroke symptoms so that patients are able to improve walking ability.

By helping patients restore function and improve variables such as balance, through the stimulation of the nervous system, this type of innovative technology is changing lives.

Learn more about neuro rehabilitation here, so that you or your loved one can reconnect to the most important foundation in relation to walking — the foot. This technology can also support those living with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's.









Innovative Products for Stroke Recovery

Stroke remains one of the most pressing concerns in communities around the world. The medical condition is caused when an artery is clogged or bursts due to the deposit of fatty tissues or plaque. Stroke compromises the direct blood supply to the brain, leading to impeded bodily functions and potentially fatal cases.

Recent statistics have shown a marked rise of reported cases in younger people between the ages of 30-40. This worrying trend has been attributed to modern lifestyle choices and unhealthy diets among possible factors.

Stroke recovery addresses three major concerns: the wellness, medical condition and performance of an individual. Each factor brings about great inconvenience to the life of the sufferer, which may lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness.

As stroke treatment becomes relevant now more than ever, it is important for sufferers, caregivers and medical practitioners to look beyond conventional rehabilitation devices in speeding up the recovery process. The innovative products in this article will fulfill the various needs of stroke patients and offer additional support to existing rehabilitation efforts.

Optimizing Mobility Post-Stroke

Stroke damages the major nervous pathways within the body, which restricts or impedes mobility in patients. Therefore, it is necessary for sufferers to find the ideal assisted mobility device to help them through the rehabilitative process and in managing daily functions. These may come in the form of traditional canes and walkers that guide and support movement, or devices that improve mobility through comfort and coordination.

Smovey Stability Rings  (www.smoveyhealth.com)

Smovey Stability Rings (www.smoveyhealth.com)

The Smovey is a dynamic device that stimulates the Qi within the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Qi is believed to be the natural vital energy responsible for the wellness of an individual. Thus, it is believed that illnesses and debilitating conditions such as stroke can severely obstruct the flow of Qi within the body, leading to malaise and health complications.

The Smovey device consists of rings that contain four metallic balls. When users swing the rings, positive vibrations are released by the balls within the device, which resonate through the prime meridians (vital points) of the upper body to stimulate the flow of Qi.

Aside from stroke patients, the device is also favored among the elderly and athletes as it helps in the training of muscle coordination and movement.

Naboso Textured Insoles  (www.nabosotechnology.com)

Naboso Textured Insoles (www.nabosotechnology.com)

Traditional insoles are added to footwear for comfort through cushioning and support. The revolutionary design of Naboso Technology Insoles takes comfort many steps further. The insoles were specially developed by movement specialist Dr Emily Splichal to mimic the natural soles of feet. 

Naboso insoles feature a unique design that stimulates the plantar proprioceptors (skin at the sole), which are responsible for the stability and balance of a person when walking and standing. Stroke patients often suffer poor muscle coordination due to blockages to their nerve pathways, which compromises locomotion.

With Naboso insoles, stroke patients will be able to feel the bottom of their feet again and improve the effectiveness of their mobility.  

Fitterfirst Balance Boards  (www.fitter1.com)

Fitterfirst Balance Boards (www.fitter1.com)

Balance boards are used by athletes and physiotherapists in rehabilitation processes. The device trains the core muscles and posture of stroke patients by strengthening balance and proprioception sensations.

Additionally, balance boards can help improve the reaction of stroke patients through gradually stimulating the nervous connections related to balance and locomotion.

Users stand on a board attached to a rounded bottom and balance their weight by keeping their arms out in front of them. These devices may be used with standing desks and rails for additional support.  

However, it is important for recent stroke sufferers to exercise caution or seek supervision when using balance boards, to avoid slipping.

Optimizing Speech Post-Stroke

Aphasia is a type of speech impediment that usually affects stroke patients as a result of brain damage. Aphasia causes difficulty in enunciating or remembering familiar words. Patients suffering from the condition are still capable of expressing themselves through fragmented speech, through the support from specialized devices. The rate of recovery for aphasia is highly varied among sufferers. Choosing the right speech rehabilitation method can make a huge difference in the recovery process.  

Speech impediments make it challenging for sufferers to communicate effectively with their caregivers and loved ones, which can be a highly distressing experience that puts a strain on relationships. Fortunately, there are advanced technological devices that amplify and facilitate communication throughout the recovery process.

Linguaphica Devices  (www.aphasia.com)

Linguaphica Devices (www.aphasia.com)

These specialized communication devices are alternatives to tablets for stroke sufferers. The icon-based software contains a built-in language support system that assists sufferers with forming sentences right from the foundation. The devices feature a library of over 4,000 icons and over 9,000 key words. The icons and phrases are combined for the easiest way in delivering a message.

Patients can easily enlarge icons for easy viewing and reading without fuss. Additionally, the device varies in size and is lightweight for portability purposes. This allows patients to conveniently communicate with their caregivers and loved ones or carry it along for their speech therapy sessions.   

The device also contains a built-in camera, email accessibility and even a stream of news to keep patients informed of the latest happenings in the world. The Linguaphica device will make the journey between home care speech rehabilitation and societal reintegration a seamless process.

Tactus Therapy Application

The experts from Tactus Therapy have come up with a transformational application that offers a comprehensive approach to the speech rehabilitation of stroke patients. The application is compatible with smartphones and tablets and focuses on 4 pillars of communication: comprehension, naming, reading and writing.

Comprehension is the first level of therapy, where users are tested on their reading and hearing capacities. The curriculum covers common nouns, verbs and other grammar components applied in everyday conversation. The level of difficulty for the application is easy to adjust, and the system records the achievements of users so they may conveniently monitor their progress throughout the therapy.

Subsequently, users are introduced to more advanced learning therapies such as naming, reading and writing, so they may fully reacquire the communication skills in their lives.  

One of the best things about the therapy is that there is no need to purchase any hardware since the application can be installed on any handheld device. Additionally, there are many practical tutorial videos that can help users and carers make the best out of their Tactus experience.

Memocorby Solution

Memocorby offers therapy in the form of interactive memory cubes and speech re-learning applications. The combination of multi-sensory Memocorby tools encourages stroke patients to practice feeling (haptic learning), visualizing and hearing during their rehabilitation.

Each set of tools may be used through the guidance of a professional therapist or independently by patients in the comfort of their homes.   

The Memocorby team believes in making rehabilitation a fun and enjoyable process as patients are empowered to restore their normal lives.

Optimizing Daily Living Post-Stroke

As stroke reduces the mobility of patients, daily routines such as showering, and dressing may get disrupted. With advanced grooming aids, recovering patients will be assisted in effectively maintaining their appearance with independence and confidence.

Shower Bay  (www.showerbay.com)

Shower Bay (www.showerbay.com)

Shower Bay is a portable showering device for stroke patients with limited mobility. Shower head connections are easily screwed onto bathroom faucets for immediate water supply. The system can be set up in minutes, without the need for costly and time-consuming bathroom remodeling.

The portable shower has a roll-in ramp entry, which accommodates wheelchair use. Additionally, sturdy sliding doors provide users with the same privacy found in conventional showers. The system allows stroke patients to stay safe while in the presence of their loved ones during rehabilitation.

Toilet Assistance
Aside from common bathroom modifications such as elevated toilet seats and installed handrails, it is also essential for caregivers to provide a safe and secure transition for stroke patients when using the toilet.

There are various techniques that caregivers can employ to safely transfer a patient through different positions. Ambulatory devices such as the Rifton Tram can assist sufferers with toilet accessibility. The revolutionary machine helps to align the posture of the user to provide reinforced back support during seat to seat transfers.

Dressing Aids

Stroke makes it harder for individuals to stretch and bend during the dressing up process. Therefore, it is often necessary for sufferers to implement aids to cope with the needs of independent dressing. These aids are designed for specific functions such as fastening buttons and the putting on of clothing items such as socks, pants and bras.

Stroke is a debilitating condition that can severely harm the quality of life. However, through the support of innovative technology and the contributions of dedicated caregivers, patients can receive the ideal rehabilitation treatment to spur them toward speedier recovery.

Learn more about how Naboso Technology can make a difference in the stroke recovery process. 

Bye Bye Bunions! | Products that Prevent & Manage Bunions

One of the most common foot deformities, bunions can cause a lot of pain and affect your lifestyle. Bunions can limit your ability to wear certain shoes, cause pain when walking and prevent you from doing certain activities or exercises.

Often blamed on genetics or footwear, it is actually our foot type that is one of the greatest contributors to bunion formation. Understanding your foot type and knowing how to prevent bunions can help you avoid a future of foot pain and potential foot surgery.

This guide walks you through a range of products that help prevent bunion progression or ease their symptoms.

What Are Bunions?

Bunions are deformities of the big toe joint that develop slowly, in time. A bunion looks like a hard lump on the side of the foot. But that lump is not a type of growth within the foot, like many people believe. It's actually the shifting of the fist metatarsal (long bone) in the foot that creates the bump.

Although there is no consensus on what causes bunions. One culprit may be the tapering toe-boxes on most conventional shoes. Or, there may be other causes. These include structural defects, medical conditions like flatfoot and gout, and overpronation.

Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of bunions is surgery which means that prevention is the recommended approach to a future of foot problems.

How to Prevent Bunions Without Surgery

Luckily, there are less invasive treatments than surgery to reduce the pain that bunions cause. Here are some of the things you can do to decrease the symptoms and stop bunion progression:

•         Wear shoes with a wide toe-box

•         Choose low-heeled shoes and avoid prolonged high heel wear

•         Do foot strengthening exercises like short foot

•         Work out your core glutes to keep feet strong and aligned

Our Favorite Bunion Recovery Products

Today there are many corrective devices that claim to reverse bunions and prevent foot pain. It can be overwhelming to the consumer. To help you determine which products actually hold some weight, we’ve featured six of the best products for bunion prevention or for pausing the progression of bunions:

Bunion Bootie (www.bunionbootie.com)

Bunion Bootie (www.bunionbootie.com)

Bunion Bootie is a flexible bunion splint that eases the pain that a bunion causes. It does this by stretching the foot muscles and better realigning the big toe.

When you slide the Bunion Bootie over your foot, you can see how the big toe realigns temporarily. This gently stretches the small muscles of the foot and pulls the great toe into its proper position. As a result, the joint sits in a better aligned position and allows more optimal foot mechanics.

The fabric of Bunion Bootie is strong, flexible, and breathable. As it's ultra-thin, it prevents chafing from shoes, which can cause blisters and corns. You can wear the Bootie when you walk, workout or train barefoot

Priced at $33.95 the Bunion Bootie is one of our favorite products for mild to moderate bunions.

Correct Toes (www.correcttoes.com)

Correct Toes (www.correcttoes.com)

Designed by sports podiatrist Dr. Ray McClanahan, Correct Toes is a toe spacer. This corrective device is made of soft and flexible silicone. It works best in completely flat shoes with flexible soles and a wide toe-box. But you can also use it barefoot.

If you find yourself needing to wear narrow toed shoes, sliding on Correct Toes at the end of the day helps the toes go back to their natural alignment. The manufacturer says that after wearing Correct Toes regularly for a few months, you should see some realignment of the big toe.

An added bonus is that using Correct Toes will also strengthen the foot muscles. This means that Correct Toes can also help restore foot balance and improve gait, posture, and proprioception.

Priced at $65 Correct Toes is recommended for mild to moderate bunions.

Rescue Loop by Feetness  (www.highheelrescue.com)

Rescue Loop by Feetness (www.highheelrescue.com)

Rescue LOOP is the brainchild of fitness pro Ilaria Cavagna, creator of the Feet-Ness workout. It's an exercise tool that has two double leather loops connected by a spring.

The small loops go around the big toes when you strengthen the small muscles of the foot. And the big loops go around the feet, to strengthen the bigger muscles that connect the foot with the leg.

Used in the Feet-Ness workout, Rescue LOOP strengthens your feet. and creates balance in and around the big toe. Exercising 10 minutes twice a week using Rescue LOOP is enough to work out the foot and ankle, according to Feet-Ness.

Priced at $69 the Rescue Loop is best for mild to moderate bunions

Naboso Insoles  (www.nabosotechnology.com)

Naboso Insoles (www.nabosotechnology.com)

These textured insoles are a high-quality product that Dr. Emily Splichal developed based on barefoot science.

The proprioceptive insoles stimulate the small foot nerves to keep your feet strong. The bottom of the foot has nerves that sense texture, pressure, touch, and vibration. Each small foot nerve sends this information to the brain and spine so they can control movement and balance. These nerves need stimulation to function well, and to transmit the right kind of information to the brain.

Stimulating the nerves in the feet has a foot strengthening benefit which can prevent the progression of bunions.. Having healthy foot function contributes to keeping your feet and body in alignment and can prevent overpronation, one of the possible causes of bunions.

Priced at $50 Naboso Insoles can prevent foot pain associated with mild to moderate bunions.

RAD Rounds  (www.radroller.com)

RAD Rounds (www.radroller.com)

RAD Rounds from RAD Roller is a device specifically designed for tension-releasing therapy of the feet and lower leg. A RAD Rounds pack comprises three balls with different sizes and densities.

Use the Rounds to apply compression to the bottom of the foot. This will stimulate the small receptors that help the foot muscles and tissues relax. Less tension means less compression of the joints and improved mobility.

Doing foot release every day can help you prevent bunions. Dr. Emily Splichal explains in this YouTube video how to use RAD Rounds to do foot release. Aim to do this exercise twice a day, for 6 minutes, to strengthen your foot.

If you have a bunion, using RAD Rounds can't realign the big toe inward. But doing a foot release with RAD Rounds can promote optimal foot function and the prevention of bunions.

Priced at $16 RAD Rounds are recommended for all foot types and bunions

ToeSox Sandal  (www.amazon.com)

ToeSox Sandal (www.amazon.com)


ToeSox Five Toe Sandals have a comfortable foot-bed, a laid-back style, and come in various strap colors and materials. But what really makes them special is that they have toe-spreaders. 

Narrow-toe-box shoes squish your toes together, but these sandals give your toes room to breathe and spread. Spreading the toes is an exercise that relieves some of the pain and discomfort from bunions. 

ToeSox Sandals gently align the toes which can train them to stay aligned naturally, as they should. This reduces your chances of getting a bunion.

Priced at $39.95 these sandals are great option for warmer weather

Summary

To avoid bunions or slow their progression, keep your feet strong and healthy. Use corrective devices like Bunion Bootie, Correct Toes, and ToeSox Sandals to cue the toes into more natural alignment. Exercise the foot with Feet-Ness Rescue LOOP, and massage them with RAD Rounds. And finally, reduce foot pain and stay barefoot strong with Naboso Technology Insoles.














Top 5 Minimalist Shoes for Barefoot Running

Barefoot running, also known as a mid foot strike pattern, is one of the fastest-growing areas of running. Blame it on the book Born to Run or the advent of Vibram Five Fingers or Nike Free shoes, the concept of barefoot running may have seemed like a trend but it is here to stay.

Read on to explore Naboso Technology’s take on the 5 best shoes for those looking to explore the benefits of barefoot running!

What is Barefoot Running?

Barefoot running is almost as the name suggests, running sans supportive footwear. Adherents to the barefoot running philosophy embrace the idea that humans made born to run — specifically, made to run without the heavily cushioned and supportive shoes that dominate the market today.

Although most barefoot runners are actually running with shoes, some do take the term barefoot literally and run with no shoes. This is not required, and may not be appropriate for all, in order to take advantage of barefoot running. For the sake of this article we are going to focus on barefoot to mean minimal.

What Are the Benefits of Barefoot Running?

Runners that use traditional cushioned shoes tend to have noticeably different running strides. The use of traditional running shoes promotes heel striking, meaning that the runner may tend to land (“strike”) the ground heel-first. 

Leading with the heel is instinctive behavior when wearing a supportive, cushioned shoe but may not be the most efficient running style. The protection offered by these types of footwear trains the runner to strike with their heel.

Barefoot runners, or those who use minimalist footwear, instinctively avoid heel-striking and tend to use a mid foot or forefoot running stride.

Barefoot runners have:

  • Shorter strides

  • Shorter contact time

  • A more natural mid foot or forefoot contact

What Features Should You Look For in Minimalist, Barefoot Running Shoes?

In terms of physical features and characteristics, barefoot running shoes tend to have the following:

•         A thin but protective sole

•         Wide toe box

•         Flexible last that molds to the natural movement of the foot

•         Minimal or completely level heel-to-toe drop

A thin, protective sole helps promote proprioception—ground feel—while keeping the foot safe from debris, rocks, and injurious materials.

A barefoot running shoe with a wide toe box ensures that the front half of the foot is free to flex and adapt to conditions on the ground. A narrow toe box forces the toes into an unnatural, fixed position that limits the effectiveness of your running.

Similar in many ways to the wide toe box, a flexible last enables your foot to flex and stretch in all directions.

A minimal (0 to 6-8mm) heel-to-toe drop is perhaps the most defining feature of a barefoot, minimalist running shoe. A minimalist running shoe aligns the ball of the foot with the heel so that the heel and ball of the foot the same distance from the ground. 

This alignment is how the human foot naturally looks. The use of traditional cushioned and supportive running shoes is similar to wearing heels. With traditional shoes, the heel sits above the ball of the foot, encouraging heel-striking and increasing pressure on the knees.

Below are our top 5 picks for barefoot running shoes.

Altra Vanish R (www.altrarunning.com)

Altra Vanish R (www.altrarunning.com)

Altra's first true racing flat is here! The Vanish-R is extremely lightweight and flexible for a great fit and feel during your training and racing on the road or track. The Propel Plate push-off feature in the midsole will help you spring forward with more power than you ever thought possible. If you've been looking for a Balanced Cushioning, FootShape racing flat, look no further. The Altra Vanish-R is sure to impress.

Breathability 

The shoe consists of a lightweight, breathable mesh upper that will keep your feet dry and comfortable. The shoe is incredibly thin, virtually weightless, and offers a glove-like fit. 

Value

Priced for the higher-range market (around $100, depending on your retailer), the Altra Vanish R is worth the investment. This is a shoe meant for the barefoot runner looking for an extremely lightweight, flexible shoe with good traction. 

Durability

Durability is where the Altra Vanish R takes a hit. The lightweight, minimalist design of the shoe does not lend itself toward long-term durability. This is not a shoe you want to use for off-road training or even daily use: keep it in the closet until the morning of the race. 

Flexibility

Altra went above and beyond to make the Vanish R the ultimate lightweight race shoe. The outsole provides incredible traction on pavement, while the flexible midsole uses Altra’s “Propel Plate” to maximize energy return. 

Comfort

Weighing in at 3.9 ounces, the Vapor R is about as minimal as you can get. Despite the barefoot nature of the shoe, Altra’s unique Balanced Cushioning design still offers a reasonable amount of cushioning. 

The Vanish R is flexible, lightweight, and secure around the foot. If you want comfort on race day, this is the shoe for you.

Merrell Vapor Glove 4 (www.merrell.com)

Merrell Vapor Glove 4 (www.merrell.com)

Merrell has been a major player in the shoe game since the early 1980s. They started out as a company that manufactured hiking boots, then pivoted toward trainers, walking shoes, and eventually barefoot running shoes. The Merrell Vapor Access 4 is the company’s most impressive barefoot running option and, for the price, is nigh-unbeatable.

Breathability 

In keeping true to their outdoor origins, Merrell knew that breathability would be one of the most important aspects of the Vapor Glove 4. The upper consists of a flexible air mesh and synthetic leather (for durability). Merrell’s patented “M-Select Fresh” technology—a fancy term for what amounts to an anti-microbial coating on the inside of the shoe—adds to the breathability of the shoe. 

All in all, the Vapor Glove 4 scores highly on every breathability metric reviewers care to use.  

Value

Sitting right in the middle of the “Goldilocks pricing zone, the Vapor Glove 4 will run you a little under $80, depending on your retailer of choice. It’s tough to beat the value of the Vapor Glove 4: this is truly one of the best running shoes on the market today.

Durability

Hearkening back to their outdoor origins yet again, Merrell made a serious effort to stress the durability of the Vapor Glove 4 — and it shows. The shoe is robust, puncture-resistant, and offers plenty of traction thanks to its deep flex grooves in the outsole. The synthetic overlays used throughout the upper add to the shoe’s durability as well. 

However, the outsole is the shoe’s one weak point. The wide, deep grooves in the outsole—the same grooves that help with traction and flexibility—are vulnerable to wear and damage over time. 

Flexibility

The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 weighs in at a truly remarkable 6 ounces. This is lightweight in the extreme: few, if any, shoes can match the weight of this shoe. That low weight contributes to the shoe’s impressive flexibility and overall responsiveness. 

Comfort

The Vapor Glove 4 is a shoe that you need to break-in. The wide toe box, zero-drop heel, and ample midsole protection make for a comfortable, flexible, lightweight running shoe.


Vibram Five Fingers KSO  (www.vibram.com)

Vibram Five Fingers KSO (www.vibram.com)

Distinctive, stylish (well, to some), and instantly recognizable, the Vibram FiveFingers KSO is, in many ways, the shoe that started it all. That’s not to say that Vibram was the first company to sell minimalist or barefoot running shoes, but Vibram certainly made a splash when it launched the FiveFingers in 2005.

Breathability 

Vibram leads the pack in terms of breathability. The company uses a polyester blend in the upper that breathes fantastically well. In fact, the breathability may be toogood — inclement weather is prone to seeping into the shoe. Clear skies and dry ground is where the Vibram FiveFingers KSO truly shines.

Value

Vibram prices the FiveFingers KSO at a pleasant $85 (men’s). The value here is tough to beat: Vibram is one of the most iconic and storied brands in the world of barefoot running. Fitted properly—you’ll want to take extra care to make sure your FiveFingers fits perfectly—the Vibram FiveFingers KSO offers incredible value for the money.

Durability

Durability is the FiveFinger’s biggest functional weakness. The polyester upper is tough: abrasion resistance and puncture resistance is part and parcel of the shoe’s design. The outsole is equally resilient. 

The toe pockets, however, may give you some trouble. Depending on the overall usage, the toe pockets can suffer from premature wear and tear (particularly where the toe pocket connects to the rest of the shoe).

Flexibility

Like most barefoot shoes, the FiveFingers KSO has the flexibility to spare. The shoe will bend, twist, and roll with your foot as well as any other shoe on this list. 

Interestingly enough, the toe pockets make it possible to dig your toes down into the ground. This feature can help you get a solid grip on the ground when running. 

As a general rule, you won’t get much more flexible than a pair of Vibram FiveFingers.

Comfort

An incredibly thin outsole (the shoe is 4.7mm at its thickest point) gives the FiveFingers KSO plenty of ground feel. Runners not used to the toe pocket design may find the Vibram a bit off-putting until they have a chance to adapt.

This is a minimalist shoe at its most extreme. There is a complete lack of cushioning and padding: you’ll feel pretty much everything on the ground. 

Vivobarefoot Stealth II  (www.vivobarefoot.com)

Vivobarefoot Stealth II (www.vivobarefoot.com)

A relative newcomer to the barefoot running world, Vivobarefoot is certainly making an impression - and a good one at that! The company offers a range of different barefoot running shoe options, including the Vivobarefoot Stealth II.

Breathability 

The Vivobarefoot Stealth II’s distinctive outer appearance is the result of the company’s use of its unique honeycomb hex-mesh fabric. This fabric breathes fantastically well, making the Vivobarefoot Stealth II a great option for anyone running in hot weather. The hex-mesh dries quickly as well, making it ideal for humid or wet climates. 

Value

Definitely one of the more expensive options on this list, the Vivobarefoot Stealth II clocks in at an aggressive $130-150, depending on your choice of retailer. That’s not cheap, especially for a minimalist, barefoot running shoe that lacks true off-road capability. 

That said, if you’re in the market for a durable, comfortable running shoe for the gym or pavement, the Vivobarefoot Stealth II is nothing short of brilliant.

Durability

Vivobarefoot’s hex-mesh is both durable and long-lasting. The shoe’s 3mm barefoot sole offers plenty of tactile feedback from the ground while keeping the foot safe and secure. Toss in the puncture-resistant outsole and the Vivobarefoot Stealth II keeps getting better and better.

Flexibility

As you’d expect from a barefoot running shoe, the Vivobarefoot Stealth II is all about flexibility. The light (yet durable) material that comprises the upper is both supportive and stretchable — you never lack for flexibility with the Stealth II. The shoe is also light: it weighs in at an impressive 9 ounces (the women’s version clocks in at a mere 7 ounces!).

Comfort

The removable footbed makes the Vivobarefoot Stealth II versatile in its comfort level. Without the insole, the shoe retains its basic shape and works fantastically well. With a wide, natural toe box and zero-drop heel, the Vivobarefoot Stealth II makes for a solid barefoot running shoe.

Xero Shoes Prio  (www.xeroshoes.com)

Xero Shoes Prio (www.xeroshoes.com)

Xero’s Prio minimalist running shoe is the company’s newest take on the barefoot running market. Good traction, excellent durability, and distinctive, the Xero Prio is hard to pass up (especially at this price point).

Breathability 

In terms of breathability, Xero’s Prio is an absolute stunner. The shoe’s lightweight fabrics are highly aerated and incredibly breathable. If you plan on running in hot weather —or wet climates—the Prio is a fantastic choice. 

Value

Clocking in right under the $100 mark depending on your retailer of choice, the Xero Prio is definitely a contender in terms of value. Some may view the styling as slightly “clunky”, but the features are impressive: a zero-drop heel, breathable fabrics, 5,000-mile sole warranty, and a durable rubber outsole make for a great shoe.

Weighing in at a little under 10oz, the Xero Prio is (barely) heavier than the competition.

Durability

The Prio, like all Xero Shoes, comes with a 5,000-mile warranty on the shoe’s sole. Xero opted to use their patented 5.5mm “FeelTrue rubber” on the shoe. This thin (but strong) sole gives the runner plenty of ground feel, while simultaneously providing them with sufficient protection against rocks, debris, and other hazards.

Flexibility

Xero is quick to stress the flexibility of the Prio’s design. The shoe allows your foot you flex, bend, and move in every direction — exactly what you want in a minimalist, barefoot running shoe. 

Comfort

The Prio’s wide toe box allows your toes to spread out, relax, and move freely. Xero opted to use a true zero-drop heel in the Prio so that the heel and ball of the foot will align perfectly.







Benefits of Barefoot Stimulation for Children

Life is a sensory playground.

From the vibration of impact forces to the sound of our favorite song, sensory stimulation shapes our cognition, emotional flexibility and motor control. If we think back to when we were children, many of us may recall instinctively preferring to be without shoes. We intuitively knew that that things felt “different” in this sensory rich environment we call barefoot.

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The Importance of Barefoot Stimulation for Kids

No matter how adorable kids' shoes are, walking and playing barefoot allows access to the thousands of nerves in the bottom of the feet. This direct contact between the feet and the ground has incredible benefits. Below are some of the top benefits chidden can expect from going sans footwear.

Barefoot Stimulation Allows Healthy Foot Development

Over the past 30 years, studies have shown that wearing shoes can have a negative effect on foot development. Premature supportive footwear can slow the natural intrinsic muscle strengthening that is required for future arch development and dynamic foot function.

study in the Bone and Joint Journal suggested that children who wear close-toe supportive shoes are more likely to have flat feet than children who wear sandals or walk barefoot.

Since children are going through so much growth and motor programming, the impact of footwear can potentially be greater for children than adults. For instance, children develop a foot arch between the ages of 3 and 9 which mean that the need for arch support in children may not be necessary and actually deleterious.

Barefoot Stimulation Benefits the Brain

Feeling the ground beneath the feet increases foot nerve stimulation which leads to overall higher neuro-activation.

Kids' (like adult’s) receive information about the surfaces they walk on. The sole of the foot is rich in nerve endings which are designed to send sensory information to the brain. This information is then used to prepare accurate muscle responses.

Barefoot stimulation enhances the connection between the foot and the brain. This means that it increases proprioception and mechanoception. Proprioception is the ability to perceive the motion and position of our body in space. These receptors in the body are activated by movement and pressure. Then they communicate the body's position and orientation to the brain.

Sensorial stimulation of the feet is important throughout one's life, however early childhood is a particularly crucial period for stimulation due to it being a peak window of neuroplasticity, or a period of neurodevelopment. About 90 percent of the brain develops during the first six years of life. It's during this period that a child's neural pathways form and change in response to stimuli, including that from the foot.

Barefoot Stimulation Promotes Better Walking Posture

Barefoot stimulation increases body awareness which translates to how we learn to walk and carry ourselves.

Without shoes the brain learns the pattern of normal movement from the way the muscles contract and relax, and how the joints work. This forms neurological patterns in the brain — a kind of "walking memories." Premature use of shoes can distort the natural walking pattern due to compromised sensory stimulation.

For healthy growth, a child's foot needs to feel all the clues from the environment. Foot stimulation is best when the foot touches the ground without the barrier of footwear. This promotes the natural movement needed for a proper posture, better balance and coordination.

When kids have more control of their feet, their movement is more stable. So, walking, running, climbing, and playing become safer.

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Barefoot Stimulation Tips for Kids

As well as benefiting the brain, nerves, and muscles, barefoot walking and playing is fun for kids. So let's take a look at some barefoot activities for children. Then, we'll discover what they should wear when they can't go around unshod.

Barefoot Activities for Kids

It's good for your kid to walk or play barefoot at least 20 minutes a day, according to an article on Motherly. Having a no-shoes household policy helps.

Walk Barefoot. Allow your child to go without shoes anywhere that it's safe enough to walk barefoot. As kids imitate grown-ups, take your shoes off, too. Choose to walk on surfaces with a mix of textures, like a sandy and gravel beach. Or, walk barefoot along a forest path. It's even better if it has grass, mud, dry leaves, rocks, and wood. All these textures train your kids' bare feet to adapt to various surfaces they tread. In doing so, they stimulate the nervous system.

Play Barefoot. When kids play barefoot, running around, skipping rope, jumping in a mud pool, and climbing trees become more enjoyable. In addition exploring their environment with bare feet helps their muscle and brain development.

Build a Barefoot Sensory Trail for Kids.To boost kids' bare feet stimulation, you can create a sensory walking path in your yard. From rock mats and the Naboso Mat to dirt and grass, all different surfaces create. a unique stimulating environment for children’s feet.

Minimalist Shoes and Naboso Insoles Keep Kids' Feet Stimulated

Choosing the right footwear for tiny feet is crucial to avoid foot problems in childhood and later. Stiff shoes can cause deformities, like bunions. Or, they may even cause injury or foot pain. This is the conclusion of a research study published in The Foot in 2007.

So what are the best shoes for children?

The ideal shoes for kids are:

•         flat

•         flexible

•         lightweight

•         breathable

They have:

•         a deep and wide toe box

•         no arch support

•         an adjustable closure like Velcro or laces at the top

•         a puncture-resistant sole

We recently did a blog post on our favorite barefoot shoes for kids. You can read that HERE

As mentioned above, nothing is better for children than walking barefoot. But minimalist, or "barefoot," shoes come close. And if you pair them with Naboso insoles, you've got the next best thing to walking in bare feet. They help improve balance, foot strength, mobility, as well as ankle function.

These textured insoles stimulate the nervous system. This improves children's motor and cognitive development. You can trim the insoles to match any type of children's shoes. Visit the Naboso shop to find out more about Naboso Technology products.

Conclusion

The best way to stimulate your kids' bare feet is to let them go unshod. Foot stimulation through barefoot walking has amazing benefits. It helps their motor skills, brain, nerves, and muscles. When kids need footwear, choose minimalist shoes with Naboso insoles. The young ones will reap most of the benefits of barefoot walking with the added protection that footwear provides. With the right footwear, your children will go places — safely.





Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids

Sensory stimulation is a necessary aspect to any child’s cognitive, emotional and motor development. When we say sensory - we mean visual, vestibular and tactile input. From a tactile input perspective this can be achieved through stimulation of the hands and feet.

Some of the best ways to increase foot sensory stimulation is through barefoot play, minimal shoes and textured insoles. The purpose of this article is to review the benefits of barefoot shoes for kids and some of our favorite recommendations to keep your little ones stimulated.

Why Barefoot Is Better

Shoes with cushion, support and a heel toe drop are unnatural devices which actually work against the natural movement patterns of a child. Instead of restricting natural movement of the foot we want to allow freedom of movement - especially during this period of motor programming and development.

Below are 5 of our favorite barefoot shoes for children along with some of their top features and price point.

Merrell Bare Steps Toddler Shoes (www.merrell.com)

Merrell Bare Steps Toddler Shoes (www.merrell.com)

Merrell Bare Steps Toddler Shoes

Merrell—a huge player in the adult shoe market—is no stranger to the benefits of minimalist footwear. To that end, the Michigan-based footwear company offers a range of “Bare Steps™” shoes for children.

As you might imagine, Merrell’s catalog is both varied and stylish. The Little Kid’s Bare Steps Sneaker is a perennial favorite (the extra-wide toe box is particularly impressive). Likewise, Merrell’s Little Kid’s Bare Steps Sandal is a fantastic option for a relaxed, durable sandal capable of handling all sorts of terrain.

Features

•         A durable, puncture-resistance rubber outsole.Merrell's "M Select Grip" rubber outsole is specifically designed to maximize traction and ground feel.

•         An extra-wide toe box.The extra-wide toe box (combined with a rounded outsole edge) perfectly mimics the natural shape of the foot.

•         A zero-drop sole.The thin, zero-drop sole offers protection, ground feel, and plenty of flexibility.

Pricing

Clocking it around $50 a pair, the Little Kid’s Bare Steps Sneaker is hard to beat!

Softstar’s Barefoot Kids’ Shoes (www.softstarshoes.com)

Softstar’s Barefoot Kids’ Shoes (www.softstarshoes.com)

Softstar’s Barefoot Kids’ Shoes

Softstar is another great option for handmade, minimalist shoes for children. The company offers a range of different shoes including the Child Classic, Merry Jane, Roo Moccasin, and Youth Rambler.

Different styles, yes, but the core philosophy is consistent between the entire catalog. The Child Classic, for example, is the quintessential barefoot child’s shoe.

Features

•         A wide tide box. This gives the foot plenty of room to wiggle, stretch, and breathe.

•         A Vibram rubber outsole. The Vibram sole offers flexibility, puncture resistance, and water resistance

•         A removable inner sole. Removable inner soles allow for extra warmth, comfort, and moisture-wicking when installed.

Pricing

Priced at a very affordable $55 a pair, the Barefoot Child Classic offers great value for the money.

Vivobarefoot Kids’ Shoes (www.vivobarefoot.com)

Vivobarefoot Kids’ Shoes (www.vivobarefoot.com)

Vivobarefoot Kids’ Shoes

Vivobarefoot is one of the barefoot shoe world’s leading designers. The company offers a range of nearly 20 different barefoot shoes for children. Vivobarefoot’s approach was brilliant: downsize our amazing range of adult barefoot shoes and pivot them toward kids. 

At its core, a kid’s barefoot shoe should provide protection, comfort, and not much else. The more the foot can flex, grow, and strengthen, the better.

Features

The Ababa Canvas shoe is as simple and minimal as it can be. This all-natural, 100% handmade shoe features:

•         A minimalist, easy slip-on design.

•         A durable, puncture-resistant, and grippy rubber outsole.

•         Only animal-free products.

Pricing

Priced at a very competitive $80 per pair, the Vivobarefoot Kids is a true winner.

Wildling Kids Shoes (www.wilding.shoes)

Wildling Kids Shoes (www.wilding.shoes)

Wildling Kids Shoes

The project of a German-Israeli couple, Europe-based Wilding Shoes (founded in 2013) has a simple goal: provide affordable, minimalist shoes to children. The philosophy is simple: shoes should only protect the foot from harmful debris or weather. The moment a shoe interferes with movement or natural function, it’s gone too far.

Features

•         A lightweight design. The design is great for maximizing ease-of-use.

•         A cork-rubber outsole. Cork-rubber blends are an eco-friendly, 100% vegan option that offers durability, weatherproofing, and plenty of comfort.

•         A Washi-Polyester blend insole. This 75% washi, 25% polyester blend is naturally antimicrobial.  

Pricing

The Feather Dove clocks in at around $75 per pair, depending on the exchange rate that day.

Xero Prio Kids (www.xeroshoes.com)

Xero Prio Kids (www.xeroshoes.com)

Xero Prio Kids Shoes

Colorado-based company Xero Shoes has just launched a children’s version of one of their top sellers - the Xero Prio. Xero Shoes was started by husband and wife team, Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix in November 2009 as a way to celebrate the natural function of the foot and help people reconnect to their foundation.

Features

•         Ergonomic fit. They didn’t just shrink the adult Prio, they changed the shape for a better fit.

•       More grip! They spaced out the lugs and made them bigger on the FeelTrue® soles to give them better traction.

•        Just-right feedback. They also thinned out the sole a little bit to make it extra flexible to give kids the right amount of ground-feel and protection.

Pricing

The Kids Prio is priced at $70 per pair and comes with a 5,000 mile warranty!

Instilling a love and appreciation for natural, minimalist footwear is one of the most important things we can do for our children. The more we encourage our children to embrace healthy, barefoot shoes, the more they’ll thank us down the road. 

5 of the Best Self-Massage Tools for the Feet

“Release and recovery your feet daily.”

This is one of the most common foot health tips you will hear Naboso™ Founder Dr Emily Splichal tell her patients. With the average adult taking between 5,000 - 8,000 steps per day our feet can take quite a beating. One of the best ways to offset accumulative foot stress and micro-trauma is with self massage.

So where to start and which are the best tools? With so many options out there we’ve listed some of our favorite and the product features we like the most!

Footsie Foot Massager by Earth Therapeutics (www.amazon.com)

Footsie Foot Massager by Earth Therapeutics (www.amazon.com)

The Earth Therapeutics Footsie Foot Massager is a simple and affordable foot massager that is designed to get the job done. It is a 9" x 2" massager that has specially designed grooves carved into the wood. These grooves make sure that all of the critical points of the foot are massaged and any adhesions released.

This is one of the more simple foot massage tools that is easy to use and affordable. It helps to not only make tired feet feel good but helps improve circulation as well. And since it's small, you can easily carry it wherever you go. It will work at your desk, while sitting in a chair, or anywhere you can put your feet on the floor.

NANO Foot Roller by TP Therapy (www.tptherapy.com)

NANO Foot Roller by TP Therapy (www.tptherapy.com)

The NANO Foot Roller by TP Therapy is specifically designed for three things: to target tension, relieve aches and pains, and increase flexibility. It has raised tips on the foot roller that are similar to what a massage therapist's fingertips feels like. What this does is improve circulation and tissue by channeling nutrients directly to these key areas.

The features include a compact design with a foam roller. The material is easy to clean and claims to be sweat proof, which is excellent since it's the perfect size to take with you to the gym. This foot roller is lightweight, easy to take with you anywhere, and can be used standing or sitting.

RAD Rounds by RAD Roller (www.radroller.com)

RAD Rounds by RAD Roller (www.radroller.com)

RAD Rounds come with three different size rounds in this kit, each slightly different in size and density (hardness). The technique used for releasing the feet with RAD Rounds is compression versus actually rolling out the foot.

Due to the variety in Round sizes you get into the different muscles and fascia at slight different angles and depths. Dr Splichal has actually filmed a release technique she recommends to her patients which can be viewed HERE

Aromatherapy Massage Ball Set by T-Spheres (www.tspheres.com)

Aromatherapy Massage Ball Set by T-Spheres (www.tspheres.com)

The T-Spheres Massage Ball Sets are more than just a massager. Each set comes with a travel bag and massage balls infused with essential oils. The oils you get depends on which set you buy. For instance, the Inner Strength set comes with two 58mm sized Lacrosse balls which are infused with 100% Eucalyptus and Lemongrass essential oils. This set is for pain relief, rejuvenation, and is uplifting.

In addition to the essential oil infusion, what is unique about these tools is that they can be used either hot or cold. Boil the massage balls for 2-3 minutes for heat or freeze them for an icy relief.

Foot Wakers by Yamuna Body Rolling (www.yamunausa.com)

Foot Wakers by Yamuna Body Rolling (www.yamunausa.com)

The Yamuna Foot Wakers are quite unique in how they look, work, and their creation. Shaped like two spindly pods, the Yamuna Foot Wakers are designed to increase flexibility, range of motion and alignment.  Once your feet are working correctly, they only require 5-10 minutes daily to keep them happy and healthy.

These can be used seated or standing, and like the other self massage tools you get to decide how much pressure to apply to each foot. The dome shape allows for applying pressure to the feet in a variety of angles giving a more thorough release.

Your Feet Will Thank You

No matter which self-massage foot tool you ultimately choose, your feet will thank you after you perform a simple 5 minute foot release daily. Dr Splichal also adds on that a foot release can easily be incorporating in the morning and evening when brushing your teeth. This helps to make it more of a lifestyle habit!





























Naboso™ Sandal Launches in Collaboration with Xero Shoes

Naboso™ Technology, creator of the first commercially available proprioceptive insoles and mats, announces its collaboration with Xero Shoes, a minimal footwear company, to create a sport sandal with built-in Naboso™ Technology.

The Naboso™ Trail Sport Sandal is the first shoe of its kind which combines the benefits of Naboso™ proprioceptive stimulation with a minimal footwear sandal. Featuring our 1.5 Insole users are able to achieve proprioceptive stimulation during their daily activities in warmer weather.

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“We are excited to announce this collaboration with a company that aligns so well with our mission” said Naboso™ Technology Founder, Dr. Emily Splichal. “At Naboso™ Technology, we believe in enhancing the natural movement of our feet and providing ways to enhance barefoot and minimal footwear living. Our partnership with Xero Shoes is just the beginning of countless Naboso™ Technology integrations we hope to accomplish to help people reconnect with their feet.”

The Naboso™ Trail is available in women’s and men’s sizes and can be found on the Xero Shoes website - www.xeroshoes.com