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Is a fixed heel cap necessary?

Why does everyone recommend a fixed heel cap? Is it really necessary?

We have asked our skilled physiotherapist Thomas Pretsch about this.

What is a fixed heel cap?
What is a fixed heel cap and why do we talk so much about it? A heel cap is a part of the shoe that surrounds and supports the heel. Many traditional shoes have a fixed heel cap, which is said to provide extra stability and support to the foot. Which is said to improve their gait especially when they have just learned to walk.

Fixed heel cap
A firm heel cap can provide a sense of stability, but is it really necessary? Here are some considerations:

  • Stiffness and Limitation: A fixed heel counter can limit the natural movement of the foot, which can lead to weaker muscles and less flexibility.
  • Natural Support: The foot has many joints, bones and muscles that are designed to adapt and support the body naturally. Unnecessary support can interfere with this natural function

When is Support Necessary?

There are situations where extra support may be needed. E.g:

  • Diagnoses or Disabilities: Children and adults with certain diagnoses or disabilities may need orthopedic footwear to properly support the foot.
  • Abnormal Positions or Functions: If there are abnormal positions or functions in the foot or ankle, support may be necessary to correct or support the movement.

Barefoot shoes and fixed heel cap

Barefoot shoes have a completely flat sole that allows the foot and body to remain in the natural body position.
Barefoot shoes have a wide toe box that gives room for the toes to spread out completely.
The sole is thin and flexible and allows the foot to feel the surface and thereby adapt and adjust better - The child's foot has a lot of joints, bones and muscles which are created to adapt to walking on varied and uneven terrain.
In barefoot shoes, there is no support of the arch or a thick shock-absorbing sole, nor a firm heel cap. The body is designed intelligently by nature to be able to move on varied surfaces.
Shoes with support, absorption and fixation are not necessary. Often they will help to weaken the foot and make it more rigid. So you end up with a foot that is less functional and has less capacity to cope with the loads to which it is exposed.
It is not necessary to have a heel cap which is firm and stabilizes or holds the foot. The body is designed by nature to function without support.
Therefore, barefoot shoes are the optimal choice if you want to support the body to develop the most natural and optimal function of the foot, ankle and leg.


For most people, especially those without foot problems, a fixed heel cap is not necessary. Barefoot shoes can be an excellent way to support the body's natural movement and develop a stronger and more functional foot. However, it is always important to consider individual needs and consult a podiatrist if there are concerns about foot health.

Concluding Remark

Barefoot shoes offer an opportunity to return to a more natural way of moving. Without unnecessary support, the feet can become stronger and more adapted to different terrains. However, people with special needs or foot problems should always seek professional advice to find the best solution for their feet.

By - Thomas Pretsch