Eine schwarze Wildling Shoes Sandale auf Holszdielen, daneben eine große weiße Feder.

What Wildling sandals have to do with the windlass mechanism

When learning about barefoot running, you occasionally come across the term “windlass”. But what is that exactly? Sounds like something to do with sailing, doesn't it?

Strictly speaking, that's true. The word is used in the world of sailing. The winch that's used to lift the anchor is called a windlass. The rope is wound round a drum to lift the anchor. Drawbridges also have a windlass. But what does that have to do with feet and Wildlings?

The windlass mechanism turns our feet into tools

When they talk about the windlass or winch effect, medical professionals mean the way the foot bends as you walk or run. And it all has to do with the big toe. The effect comes into play when we lift our feet from the ground when running, walking or jumping. The big toe then pulls up, enlarging the arch under the foot. Only now is the foot ready to strike the ground.

A foot in a Wildling Shoes barefoot shoe, standing on the ball of the foot. On the foot a graphic drawing to illustrate the windlass mechanism.
The windlass mechanism turns our feet into tools. Image: Wildling Shoes

If you observe your feet while taking a few steps you’ll quickly notice how sensible that is. The winch effect is an important part of our perfectly synchronised walking mechanism. It helps us to absorb most of the impact when walking, running or jumping and to land on the middle or front part of our feet.

With their thick, stiff soles, conventional shoes neutralise this brilliant natural mechanism. The big toe still goes up, but in a rigid shoe that doesn't move along with the foot, it doesn't have much effect. We don't use our feet or legs as nature intended, and therefore open the door to a multitude of unnecessary symptoms.

How Wildlings benefit from the windlass mechanism (or why you feel like breaking into a run as soon as you put them on!)

Wildlings were developed taking into account this biomechanical and anatomical logic, in order to allow feet their full functionality. They’re very light overall, the sole is particularly thin and flexible and the toe box wide and spacious. They embrace the foot perfectly and are so comfortable that they simply match every movement. So the winch effect is not suppressed. Our big toes have the freedom to make the upwards movement that's so important for absorbing impact. That creates a very special barefoot feeling.

The windlass mechanism in Wildling sandals

In the Wildling sandal “Feather”, the windlass effect can work particularly effectively. When producing the Feather we wanted to use as little material as possible, while at the same time creating a functional and visually attractive sandal. Together with our dear colleagues in Portugal we quickly realised that to get optimum results we should definitely not ignore the winch mechanism.

There’s a good reason why the big toe is covered in Wildling sandals. When it goes up, it takes the outsole with it - so the sandal can follow the foot’s natural movement. As it’s so wonderfully light and flexible, that works perfectly. The winch mechanism can work without restriction. The strategically placed strap, together with the other two cross pieces and the elastic at the heel ensures a secure feeling while walking. In addition, the minimalistic construction ensures that you don’t catch on anything as you walk past.

Close-up of a Wildling Shoes barefoot shoe sandal from its front; held by one hand each at the front and back; the background is very blurry.
There’s a good reason why the big toe is covered in Wildling sandals. Image: Wildling Shoes

Wildling sandals have two important benefits

Impact is optimally absorbed because the winch effect is not suppressed.

The movement of the big toe, which also pulls the upper and the outer sole upwards, makes the sandal “stick” to the foot when you walk or run. The movement of the big toe keeps the sandal in place on the foot.

Whether we walk or run in Feathers, the big toe makes sure that everything stays where it belongs. The sandal is simply wrapped around the foot. The combination of toe section, strap and elastic back section results in a unique foot feeling - free, light and ready for all your summer adventures.

A child setting their feet after a jump; the child is barefoot, the posture of the foot as it is set down is further emphasized by a close-up.
The windlass mechanism in action. Image: Wildling Shoes

Cover image: Wildling Shoes