Is Barefoot Running Really Better For You?

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What if I told you running barefoot was a safer than wearing the latest $200 state-of-the-art, clinically-designed running shoe…is that something you might be interested in?

Sounds ridiculous, right? You’d might even call me crazy, which would then make you crazy by default because you’re yelling at your computer…either way I win.

Now, what if I told you Ethiopian Abebe Bikila ran a world-record 2:15:17 marathon at the 1960 Olympics in Rome…barefoot. Starting to at least see there may be some truth to this madness?  I want to discuss my the pros and cons of ditching your shoes, my experiences with running barefoot, and then teach you HOW to run barefoot if you’re will to give it a shot.

How I ended up barefoot…kinda

I few months ago, I went to the local Nike Store and picked up a pair of expensive running shoes designed to provide the “most support and padding.” As I was walking to the checkout counter, I walked past a pair of Nike Free shoes. They looked interesting, so I asked about them; the lady behind the counter responded: “oh, those are shoes meant to mimic barefoot running, which means you have practically no padding under your feet.  They’re pretty uncomfortable.”  I shrugged my shoulders, then bought my new kicks.

Fast-forward a month: my buddy Saint up in Massachusetts, the one who lost 33 pounds in 12 weeks, tells me about these funky feet-glove things called Vibram Five-Finger shoes (pictured below).  A few quick searches on the internet leads me to stories and stories and stories about how amazing they are.  In fact, Tim Ferriss, life hacker extraordinaire, wrote quite the article on these shoes, explaining they cured his chronic back pain in a matter of weeks.  They looked ridiculous, and they sounded too good to be true – I went out and picked up a pair the next day.

It’s now been two months, and my $100 running shoes are collecting dust in the closet. I wear my Vibrams to the gym every day and on an occasional jog (which I actually ENJOY now).  The first time I went running “barefoot,” my entire running style had somehow changed immediately.  I no longer took long strides and landed on my heels; instead, I took short powerful strides and landed as softly as possible on the balls of my feet.  This wasn’t done intentionally, it’s just kind of how my body adapted to running barefoot.  Considering my form changed instantly, everything suddenly clicked: this is how we are naturally designed to run!

My excitement at this ‘discovery’ was quickly overshadowed by the pain in my calves.  Despite only running for 10 minutes, it was apparently enough to keep my calves sore for many days afterward.  Why?  Thanks to modern running shoes, our feet, Achilles tendons, and calves have essentially atrophied from non-use. Remember the scene in the Matrix where Neo wakes up for the first time in the “real world” and asks Morpheus, “Why do my eyes hurt?” Do you remember Morpheus’s response?

“Because you’ve never used them before.”



Barefoot Goes Mainstream

Now, the barefoot running concept has been around for quite a while (thousands and thousands of years to be exact), but thanks to books like Born to Run (which I reviewed here), recent articles in the New York Times, and products like FiveFingers shoes, the concept of barefoot running is coming out of the shadows and back into the spotlight.

According to Chris McDougal, author of Born To Run, injury rates among runners has remained virtually unchanged despite thirty years of technological advancements and hundreds of clinical studies and “improvements.”  Why is it that we can put man on the moon, clone sheep, and create the internet (thanks Al Gore!) but we can’t cut down on running injuries? Why is it that Nike has spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing the world’s most comfortable running shoes, and then suddenly decides to develop a shoe at the other end of the spectrum (the Nike Free) with virtually no padding?  My guess is that they might have discovered that their shoes are possibly doing more harm than good.  Can that be proven though?  That’s what I wanted to know.

Studies on Barefoot Running

Before I went out and purchased my crazy ninja-gorilla shoes, I made sure to do the proper research and make sure they’re the real deal.  I found testimonial after testimonial of people whose chronic injuries disappeared and running times improved since switching to barefoot.  However, I wanted to track down some actual statistics and scientific studies to support all of these stories.

According to This Australian study:

  • Running in shoes appears to increase the risk of ankle sprains, either by decreasing awareness of foot position or by increasing the twisting torque on the ankle during a stumble.
  • Running in shoes appears to increase the risk of plantar fasciitis and other chronic injuries of the lower limb by modifying the transfer of shock to muscles and supporting structures.


My take: Although I haven’t done extensive long-distance running barefoot myself, I’ve done enough to understand why these conclusions make sense.  Add my experiences with the thousands and thousands of people who have become injury-free since making the switch and I can’t help but believe these barefoot people are onto something.  The author of the study goes on to say that more studies must be completed as the studies that were completed in developing countries had too many variables to be considered 100% factual proof.  However, I will bet my life savings (currently $12.30; $6.30 if I decide to eat lunch today) that more controlled studies from the United States are right around the corner.

I still wanted more proof, so I stumbled across this great marathon article: Daniel Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University (oooooooh, nerd alert):

When you walk, you land on your heel, but during running you land toward the middle of your foot on your plantar arch.  The arch acts as a spring, stretching and then recoiling, not only helping to cushion the impact of the collision with the ground, but also to help push the body into the air. Laboratory studies show that the plantar arch alone returns at least 17 percent of the energy of impact. Running shoes have largely replaced our arches, but they are neither as effective nor as durable. Barefoot runners can clearly do as well as shod runners, but it takes time to develop the strength in the foot to use our natural arch fully.

Lieberman then goes on to say that “people don’t run barefoot any more simply because they don’t have to,” he said. “The barefoot running movement is wonderful evidence of how good the human foot is for doing one of the most natural and fundamental of all human activities—endurance running.”

Alongside all the anecdotal evidence, these are two pretty strong cases in favor of ditching your shoes. However, there are certainly plenty of reasons why you SHOULDN’T run barefoot.  In the spirit of good discussion, I’m hoping this becomes the greatest debate since Frank the Tank defeated James Carville on the topic of the government’s role in supporting innovation in the field of biotechnology.  On with the negatives!

What’s Wrong With Barefoot Running?

For every person that shouts the benefits of running barefoot, there are 10 people ready to explain why it’s such a ridiculous concept.  If you take a look at the previously stated New York Times article, a majority of the comments at the end of the article come from people who have tried running sans shoes and love it, or they come from people who immediately discredit it despite having never tried it.  Some of those arguments are below:

Argument: Your feet are going to get destroyed – sure we might have adapted to run barefoot through thousands of years of evolution, but our feet haven’t adjusted to modern technology and surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Factor in loose rocks, garbage, dog sh*t, etc. and running barefoot is NOT smart.

Counterargument: Fair point.  However, if you start paying attention to where you are running you won’t have these problems.  If you are concerned with stepping on infectious stuff, try a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes, which have a thick tough underskin to protect you from debris.  I have been running on asphalt, but I can see how running on concrete could cause problems.

Argument: It’s too damn cold to run barefoot.  My feet will get frosbite.

Counterargument: I completely agree, which makes me sad because I like running barefoot.  I think I’m going to get a pair of low heel running shoes for the winter because I don’t want my toes to freeze.

Argument: “If running barefoot is so great, why aren’t barefoot runners setting records?” The same NYT article cited a race in which none of the runners who mimicked a barefoot style (type of stride and foot-placement) won.  They concluded from this study that this style of running does not make you faster.

Counterargument: I think this article is ridiculous for using this as a source, as it’s not whether or not they win, but if they’re run faster relative to themselves.  Sure the people with the barefoot style might not have won, but they might have finished faster than if they had run with a more conventional style.  The winners of the race might have run even FASTER if they had been training barefoot style, or they could have been slower.  We don’t know.  Essentially, this ‘source’ is full of holes and variables and cannot be used to either credit or discredit barefoot running.

Argument: “What about flat footed people? Without special orthopedics your foot will get even more mangled.”

Counterargument: I need to find more studies to support this theory, but if we are to believe Tim Ferriss (and I do trust the man): “[going ‘barefoot’ in the Vibrams] has been nothing short of spectacular for me, despite my history of flat feet.  I’ve found that my arches, and foot as a whole, feels better with less support rather than more.”

I’m sure there are quite a few more reasons to keep your uber-comfortable Nikes, so please post your arguments in the comments.

Why I Support Barefoot Running

After reading countless studies, dozens and dozens of articles, and speaking with tons of people about their experiences with running barefoot, I decided to throw caution into the wind and take the plunge.  Since making the switch, I have become a full time convert.  Other than the articles stated above, here are my reasons:

  • It makes sense to me! We’ve survived as a species for untold millennia without the use of shoes.  It’s only in the past 30+ years that we have decide to move away from unpadded shoes, trying to fix what wasn’t broken.  I ran cross-country for a year in high school and dealt with shin splints on a weekly basis: I haven’t had one issue since switching to barefoot running other than sore calves, which is already getting better
  • It’s fun, and it gets me running. I hate running, but now that I have these Vibrams I actually enjoy it.  I’m even considering running a 5k or 10k in them to raise money for a charity.
  • It makes sense for training. I exercise in my Vibrams for the same reason I use free weights instead of exercise machines at the gym. When you use machines, your movement is limited in two directions, robbing you of the use of all of your stabilizer muscles to keep things steady. Running in sneakers is no different. There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles and tendons in the human foot. When you wear shoes, those muscles don’t get used. Running barefoot builds strength in your feet, ankles, and calves.
  • My only problem with Vibram Five-Finger shoes: I can’t get my damn workouts done, because I have to take out my headphones every three seconds to explain to somebody new why I’m wearing gorilla-feet.

How to Run Barefoot

Okay, so hopefully now you’re at least willing to give this crazy concept a shot. First things first: you aren’t just changing your shoes.  You are changing your running STYLE too, which will keep you from getting injured. Rather than try to explain it to you myself, I’ll borrow from the guys who know what they’re doing:

The barefoot running technique has been described as falling forward. It has also been described as gently kissing the ground with the balls of your feet. If you need one more concept to meditate on while running barefoot, imagine that a log is lying across the path in front of you; you don’t want to kick the front of the log with your toes. You want to step over the log with each step, keeping your knee bent and placing the ball of your foot immediately behind the log as your chest moves over the top of it.

Here’s a video from Chris McDougal, author of Born to Run. Watch the video and notice how different his running style probably is from yours:

Born to Run

Chris recently wrote a Men’s Health Article on how to run barefoot – “Imagine your kid is running into the street and you have to sprint after her in bare feet,” he says. That’s the visual: “You’d automatically lock into perfect form — you’d be up on your forefeet, with your back erect, head steady, arms high, elbows driving, and feet touching down quickly on the forefoot and kicking back toward your butt.” And then, to build the strength and balance to maintain that form over long distances, use the heel, hips, and hills principle.

  1. Wear the most neutral, low-heeled running shoe that feels comfortable.
  2. Keep your hips dead under your shoulders and dead above your feet.
  3. Use big hills to iron out the rest of the wrinkles. “You can’t run uphill powerfully with poor bio-mechanics,” Orton says. “Just doesn’t work. If you try landing on your heel with a straight leg, you’ll tip over backward.”

Some Precautions

Don’t forget Neo, you’re opening your eyes for the first time.  Here are some tips for ya:

  • Take it slow. Try 5-10 minutes a day of walking barefoot, work your way up to 10-15 minutes of jogging every 3 days, and eventually get back to your normal jogging routine. If you try to push it too hard too quickly, you can do some serious damage to your feet and calves which will keep you off the roads for quite a while.
  • Stretch! Make sure you stretch after each walk and run.  This will help eliminate the crazy soreness after the first few rounds.
  • Try Vibrams if you’re afraid of running completely barefoot.  I went with the black Vibram KSO’s, as they looked the most normal.
  • Take a look at these shoes if you’re running in bad weather. If you can’t run barefoot, you can still work on your barefoot running style.
  • Run on grass when possible, go with asphalt over concrete. Get started on grass if possible, as that will provide the most cushion when you’re just starting out.  However, running on tough surfaces will certainly make you adjust that running style quickly!
  • Have fun with it. I run “barefoot” because it gets me excited about running.  Whatever it takes to get you off your ass and out of the house, go with that: shoes or no shoes, I don’t care.

Yup, that was definitely the longest post I have ever written. If you’re still awake at this point, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you’ve tried running barefoot and loved it, tell the world.  If you’ve tried it and hated it, I want to know about it.  Think the studies above are full of crap?  Explain why!

What say you, NF Community?  Barefoot: yay or nay?


Additional barefoot resources:

Picture from: Nicholas_T

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216 thoughts on “Is Barefoot Running Really Better For You?

  1. I’ve found that aqua shoes do quite well as they are similar to sandals but with a rubber bottom and an elastic top but they allow greater flexibility while protecting you from hazards such as sharp stones/rocks, glass or other sharp objects.

  2. Merell makes a few casual dress shoes in the minimalist vein which I used to transition. I wore those for a few weeks until my feet adapted then went running/jogging. It seemed to help.

  3. My family got Vibram five fingers when we were on vacation, an adventure vacation and used them to hike in the woods because of the beach vs forest aspect of our trip. I was skeptical at first, but aside from some achilles blisters they were pretty great. Mine are worn in now but I haven’t ran in them in some time. I might try it tonight on my run, short intervals so it might work out. I did wear Nike Frees for awhile but they didn’t really feel right and my toes slide all over the place.

  4. I’ve been running in VFFs since they first came out (early adopter) on runs from 4-7 miles. They changed my stride and a lot of nagging injuries went away.

    I’ve tried every shoe brand and have been running in the past 2 years Mizunos, but they cause me to have IT Band problems. My Fives never seem to bother it.

    I’m training now for my 4th marathon and I use my VFFs during my weekly runs. On a suggestion by my shoe guy (any serious runner should have one), I am now trying Altra Instinct 1.5s on my longer weekend runs. Its a zero drop shoe and so far seems to work well..

    To say the least, big proponent of barefooting.

  5. It’s only recently that I discovered that most people land on their heels! I never did that! Guess I instinctively knew that it wasn’t the best method? Landing on the front of my foot has always felt more natural to me. Funny, that.

  6. I read Born to run, a few months back. Half through the book, I turn to my boyfriend, who’s a training and health nerd, compared to me at least, and said, babe, I think a pair of vibrams would help with my knee problems when running! He just smiled and the next day he took me to the shop and helped me find a pair. I LOVE them!! Still getting used to them, but man, it is like you say, suddenly running is fun! Makes me smile thinking of my vibrams!!

  7. Hi Steve,

    do you have any idea if barefoot running also works as barefoot SPRINTING?
    I was planning to do some Tabata sprints but now I read this article I wonder if I should do this on barefoot or on my Nike’s (the idea of sprinting at top speed on my bare feet scares the crap out of me…)

    And does this also go for Parkour or is it smart to just wear shoes while doing those freaking jump (in my opinion it is because landing on bare feet from a pretty high wall is asking for breaking bones)


  8. I found out a few years ago that when I go out to do, well, anything, and I’m too lazy to put on shoes, I feel more awake and more alive than when I’m wearing shoes. I love feeling my surroundings, and now that I’ve been using my feet more, running barefoot just feels so right. Now, even when I do wear shoes, I still have a better form.

  9. So i have been running since i was 14 am 18 now, i was having problems with my arches and i was to told to but these high arch supports in my shoes i have no ran since because they never help i feel like i walked and ran in them for a week and it was killing me it hurt more then just in my normal wore out running shoes that had like some patting in them. Well i have stopped all together so what shoes would be best for me, i want to protection of the shoes since am going to college in a month and it will have things on the ground in case i don’t look down like a dumb nerd. But i want to give it a try like where it is almost completely bare foot. Any one have the shoe for me?

  10. This is great! i hate shoes because i can’t find a pair that fit well, so i walk everywhere in barefeet. I’m excited to start running this way!

  11. I am passionate about running in five fingers. I have experienced the clearing up of injuries and actually enjoy and crave running with these shoes. They provide stability to your feet, ankles, knees and hips!

    A recommendation for running in the winter – I run outside all.year.long. Find your cold threshold (20 degrees F for me), dress appropriately, and just run! But don’t run in the snow or slush, that will give your frost bite… I also wear leg warmers (I know, super stylish – but this IS Nerd Fitness, right?) that I tuck way down into my vibrams to keep my ankles toasty.

    Do not be afraid of the cold, just be smart about it!

  12. hey guys, can you please lead me to any resources that would support the idea of barefoot walking for foot health? I am currently struggling with 3 years of chronic plantar fasciitis and have gained no relief from orthotic insoles, expensive shoes, injections, physio, regular stretching, etc. I don’t think i should have to wear orthotics for the rest of my life (especially since they arent working so far for me). I do a lot of walking as I work as a seeing eye dog instructor, and I would love to think that this could work to help me.

  13. Totally going to give this a shot. I ran in high school, ran in the military, and ran for a year or so after. I gave it up, shoes suck, they hurt your knees, hips, and back, and they make me feel like I’m Frankenstein or something. My 50 year old mother runs with Nike Frees, and I’ve seen her KILL it. I checked out the Vibram Five-Finger SpyridonLS type shoes after reading this article (I love trail running, having a cross-country background). I think with these things I’ll finally WANT to get out there and run after 3 years of sitting on my ass.

  14. Oh how I’d love to afford Vibrams! I discovered near the end of this school year that I was better at running barefoot, when I started going out to my school’s track and running a couple laps every day. One day I had to wear flip flops to school because I had broken a bowl and cut the top of my toes the night before. I couldn’t run in the sandals, so I got rid of them and I managed to run three laps around (3/4 of a mile) with only short breaks between, when usually I have difficulty on just one lap. I will admit it was too hot of a day to push myself like that and I nearly threw up in the turf, but a work-out’s a work-out, eh? The soreness is deadly if you do too much too soon, but for me it was like meditation.
    Pros: Feels more free, I can run faster for longer, running on hot or rough earth is a good way to stop thinking, other people find it entertaining.
    Cons: It /is/ sore if you do too much too soon (so don’t do too much too soon), people litter glass and rocks all over the damn streets so I can only do it on a track since I don’t have Vibrams.

  15. I’ve been running “barefoot” for a couple of years now and I love it. I have a pair of Merrel Trail Gloves which are truly minimalistic, and a pair of Merrel Mix Masters for the rougher terrain (I do a lot of trails). I love it; I have all sorts of interesting definition in my calves/legs, and feel like my distances have increased without additional pain. I used to have a lot of knee pain when running, and that has almost completely (except for longer runs) disappeared. All in all, I’m and advocate.

  16. I’ve always been something of a Hobbit, going barefoot wherever I can.
    I have run barefoot before, but not since I actively started running for exercise.
    Definitely going to start running around barefoot now! Yaay!

  17. Looks very interesting, I just started Muay thai and Bjj but I’m looking forward to start running to improve my cardio, It’s hard to move from Normal running to barefoot? I want to start with normal then when I get better maybe change to barefoot

  18. I’ve been a barefoot enthusiast for five years now, I only wear shoes when it’s too cold or I have to go into a restaurant – a feat which can be particularly challenging as I live in the Southwest which is full of goatheads and cactus… When I first started I noticed a drastic change in fitness, energy level and attitude. It feels almost as if your drawing energy from the ground to me! Barefoot-ism as I call it is awesome not only because it’s natural, healthy, and fun but It forces you to be mindful of where you step… it’s a meditation to remind you to be conscious of your environment which is a virtue I think rather lost anymore.

  19. I’ve been wearing Vibrams for just over a year now, and I love them! ~As much as I love my other shoes, my Vibrams always win when choosing what to wear. I wear them to and from Uni, but usually take them off during the day (my feet get clammy easily, in any shoes).

    I completely sympathise with having to take earphones out to explain about the ‘Gorilla Feet’. Really interesting website, really getting me enthusiastic about changing my lifestyle, so thanks for that ^^.
    Keep up the good work!
    A Crazy man in Wales.

  20. The whole time I read this, the little voice in my head was saying “barefoot is to running as paleo is to our diet!”

  21. I really like using vivobarefoots. They make all levels of barefoot shoes from casual to hiking. What I like is that they look like normal shoes but function like barefoot shoes so I don’t have to have a 5 toe shoe. They also make almost all of their shoes waterproof so its nice when the weather isn’t perfect.

  22. Thanks a lot for this priceless information. All this has a lot of sense, I suggest to start barefoot walking insted jumping to run. There is a lot of scientific evidence about humans need to reconect with the earth electromagnetic field. Since we are more than 70% water barefoot walking could be a good start to this program. Congratulations all!!

  23. I love barefooting and I’m totally in agreeance with everything all the proponents say, but I must say I don’t think it is for everyone. I have ended up injured both times I have tried to do a reasonable amount of running in Vibram Five-Fingers on grass only.

    First time: I was doing a Couch-to-5k plan, so running 3 days a week. Possibly had bad form. I ended up with shin splints and a very minor stress fracture in one shin. Physio said: My calf muscles weren’t strong enough to take the impact of running so it transferred to my shin bones. Conclusion: People with weak calf muscles probably shouldn’t start off barefoot running.

    Second time: Doing one day a week of mostly-running exercise in a group fitness thing, on grass only, and one day inside on concrete just some sprints as part of a circuit. By this point had studied barefoot running and even my trainer said I had some of the best running form she’d seen in a beginner. Ended up with considerable knee pain. Physio said: running barefoot/in minimalist shoes was causing my knees to bow in/outward (can’t remember exactly, probably a bit of both). I need considerable arch support to make my knees stay going straight (I was given a bunch of squat and lunge type exercises to help increase the muscle strength to support this).

    Plus I am not built like a runner in any way. I’m a heavy (not overweight, just heavy), thick-set woman with big boobs and dodgy joints.

    Running barefoot/in five fingers feels sooooo much better, more enjoyable, more natural than running in shoes. So I hope that some day I’ll be strong enough to do so. But when I say this to my physio, she doesn’t look happy about it, haha.

    I guess I just wanna say, be careful before jumping headlong into barefooting. Make sure your muscles can support it. And maybe some people’s body types are just not suited to it.

  24. Im actually very curious about barefoot running, but im not a fan of the vibrams, and i was born with an extra toe. Is the nike free an advisable alternative if i want to get the feel of barefoot running?

  25. I started running in Vibrams several months ago.
    Really enjoyed it, no pain anywhere, used to have hip and back pain while running in regular shoes.I increased from half mile a day to 3mi per day in a month.
    Felt so good I went for a 5 mi run in the desert, (Phoenix area).
    Had a slight pain in my calve in the last mile.
    I’ve got a thickening of my Achilles that has taken months to recover from.
    Have tried a half mile every few weeks, but it tends to irritate my Achilles.
    I think barefoot running is great, but you need to be very careful of overdoing it.

  26. Well I am a flat footed runner. I started in the 2nd grade running distance. My sprint spikes had almost no heel and I am most comfortable running in wrestling shoes.

    I had no idea it was a thing. I have run the boardwalk along pch in California for miles barefoot just because it is fun.

    If you have flat feet try it. Really try it.

  27. I bought my first pair of Vibrams last March, 2 weeks before my first Warrior Dash… and I absolutely love them! I don’t run in anything else. I decided to adapt my style before I invested 100 bucks in the shoes by learning to run “barefoot style” in my flat bottom boat shoes… and it worked! Looked crazy, but it worked!

  28. I’ve never been able to run fast or for very long. I’ve always been out of shape, even though I was small up until Middle School, so small in fact that I was accused of being anorexic by my doctor. But, I noticed when I was still in Kindergarten that I was able to run faster (not farther, but not shorter either) when I took my shoes and socks off and ran at full speed. The difference in speed was enough to where I could outrun people I normally couldn’t when I had my shoes on.

    As far as the Fivefinger shoes are concerned, I don’t think I would buy them for 2 reasons: The biggest reason is they don’t make them in a big enough size for me, and even if they did I probably wouldn’t just because having things between my toes bothers me. But I do believe n the benefits of running bare footed.

  29. I’ve always thought running bare foot was soo much better! The arch in my foot always used to hurt when I wore my first and last pair of running trainers but I thought that I just needed to adjust to them because I was used to wearing flatter shoes. Even in physical education classes when we would run relays or 100m most people would want to run in their socks than their trainers. So this post just confirmed what I thought all along! Thank you so much for this x

  30. I was involved in a lot of sports from middle school into high school and I had quite a few injury occurrences and one of the most annoying being shin splints. I ran track and sprint shoes don’t really have padding…they’re relatively flat with areas to screw spikes on the bottom to grip the track. Those were fine but unless I was racing I had regular padded running shoes and training took more time than actual events. I eventually developed shin splints and it sucked. I’ve slowly gotten back into working out and wanted to ween myself into barefoot running. I’ve discovered the brand Inov-8 and they have varying shoe thicknesses to kind of make your way to barefoot. Their crossfit shoes but I don’t think you need to necessarily in crossfit to use them. There’s a ton of different ones but reviews and other people’s opinions helped me find the ones I wanted. They’re definitely thinner than other workout shoes I’ve used and the first couple of days using them I was a bit sore but after a little while I realized how much better it felt. I haven’t had any problems with shin splints or calf aches. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the gorilla feet looking ones purely because I think they’re funny looking. I know that’s a terrible reason but the graphic designer and hidden fashion girl in me likes things that look pretty hahaha. There’s shoes that’ll get me pretty close to those. Barefoot just makes sense though. Like it was stated in the article, we were able to survive the gnarliest conditions before shoes were invented. As a kid too I used to walk outdoors on the concrete and grass front yard or backyard at my grandmother’s house barefoot constantly and was really used to it.

  31. Personally I love going barefoot most of the time the only reason i wear shoes at all is because it’s required for some reason or another. I started a while back because my friend and I wanted “hobbit” feet so we didn’t need shoes for anything and I think it’s great. Now when I run i might be slower that internet explorer on a 90’s dial up connection but it is definitely a lot more fun for me without shoes

  32. use your socks on the treadmill! don’t go barefoot as your feet get hot and pick up the black dye. before I could afford some “barefoot shoes” I ran in my garage on the old treadmill in my socks constantly! use the little grippy socks marketed towards kids and teenagers if you want the extra grip. I personally found no problems with regular socks however.

  33. I’d sure like to try it, but at my weight I think I should probably stick with the bodyweight exercises for now and try running after squats and lunges don’t make my knees hurt.

  34. I will definitely be trying this. I love running even now, but even on a comfortable treadmill, my feet always seem to burn after an intense run for about 10 minutes, and I have always been frustrated by that. I am soooo gonna try this barefoot running out. 🙂

  35. I don’t mean to be rude but…. I have never worn shoes to run…..that perplexes me… your feet gain calicoes so that they can step on hard surfaces naturally… your posture is completely wrong if your standing flat footed… I know it sounds crazy but stand on your front foot pads like a dogs foot. You’ll notice it’s actually easier to move and pounce. Do note my stance isn’t scientifically proven… it’s me tested and works for me whom is not you. Results may very.

  36. I bought one of Vibram’s FiveFinger shoes for women (the SeeYa LS), and I have to say, I am NEVER going back to my old running shoes. I absolutely love the natural feel of my Vibrams. And when it comes to running . . . there are no words to describe it really. The power I feel in my body is something I never felt before. I feel every part me engaged in the run, especially at high speed (7-8mph). My abs are engaged, my back is engaged, my arms, thighs, and especially my calves, achilles’ tendons and feet. It’s incredible. I HIGHLY recommend getting Vibram FiveFingers. They really are the best alternative to running completely barefoot.

  37. I have always loved going barefooted. I never wore shoes willingly. People are always asking me how I can stand to walk barefooted on gravel when the truth is, it feels wonderful! I have always encouraged my son to go barefooted from the time he learned to walk, and he loves it too. People also ask me what about broken glass or thorns. Broken glass is usually easily visible, and as for thorns, they can be a bit of a problem. When my 3 year old encounters a small one where he doesn’t expect, he calmly sits down on the spot and pulls the tiny needle out. No blood, no tears, no big deal. (Large thorns are easily visible, and in very thorny areas we wear Xero shoes) I always notice how much more aware of my surroundings I am when I’m barefooted. Feeling the ground is like a 6th sense, I don’t get tired as easily, and I have better balance.

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  39. I’ve always loved running. When I ran track in high school I had to see the physical therapist for knee problems all the time. I read Born to Run in Afghanistan and immediately fell in love! I had bought some Parkour shoes which coincidentally ended up being minimalist shoes. Before barefoot and minimalist, the longest I ran was 8 miles and I had to stretch and massage every part of me. I was only 18 so that was a problem. Once I got into barefoot and minimalist I adjusted so rapidly that I forgot running ever injured me. I ran 14 miles and I was so so, but it was my muscles, my joints we perfectly fine!

  40. As to the “Humans aren’t used to asphalt and stuff” argument, it falls apart. I grew up running barefoot in the road so now my feet are like leather. Sharp rocks only bother me when my foot gets impaled, and my feet are too hard for that to happen. You get used to it, after a while.

  41. I was about 6 or 7 and I lent my shoes to a friend, so I was barefoot.
    A girl came up to me and started complaining.
    It was after-school.
    I told her I could run faster without shoes and she looked at me like I was a pile of garbage and said “no, you can’t.”
    She then told the playground monitor and told me I had to put on shoes so I went home instead.

    I have very high arches, but from a bird’s eye view my feet appear rather flat.

    Perhaps I’ll purchase a pair of the toe-shoes so I can protect my feet on the rough roads out here.
    My coaches would probably keep me from running if I attempted barefoot sprints, but considering it’s the same coach that pushed us past our limit the day before a meet, It’s probably safe to say their methods are less than satisfactory.

    I’ve been subscribed to NF since I was 12, and took notes for my current and future lifestyle, while not making any major changes.

    I’m rather glad I never stopped running barefoot though, I only wished the air-conditioned YMCA would permit me to run barefoot on their treadmills.

    It gets over 30C/90F daily here, and is dangerous weather to run in, and the only locations for running in the mornings are covered in spider webs

  42. FWIW, I have run in my 5F through multiple New England winters and haven’t had a problem. My completely anecdotal theory is that, since my feet are more active and engaged in running in the 5F than regular shoes, they generate some small bit of warmth.

    I just make sure to pull my running tights down over my heels, inside the shoe, since the ankles do get cold, but feet have never frozen. Now SLUSH puddles flat out suck…

  43. I love going barefoot, and even went barefoot entirely one semester in college. I carried flip flops for when I didn’t feel like getting started at, like on the bus when I wanted to read in peace. Did you know that that “no shirt, no shoes, no service” is anti-hippy and has nothing to do with hygiene? I def washed my feet more often than I washed my shoes.

  44. Oh this is quite old…I’m late on the hype eh? Well, I want to have nothing to do with running barefoot, I came here because I’m searching info about minimalist shoes for training and for everyday life.

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