Barefoot running shoes

Would any of you out there recommend buying a pair of those barefoot running shoes which have room for each toe? A serious running friend of mine tried to convince me earlier this month to get a pair. If you run over a small stone or bit of rubbish etc on the road does it hurt? I can't imagine what barefoot running shoes are like at all!


  • you feel larger bits of debrit, but small bits and gravel etc you dont as much as you'd think, you do have to be more careful where you put your feet though thats for sure, 

    a much bigger issue is, is your form/running style suited to barefoot running? is it something you want to do? are you willing to transition.

  • I am interested in giving them a go. I am a supinator, would that mean my running form wouldn't suit them?
  • That's hard to answer annie. The arguments for them would go along the lines that running form is dictated by many things and the concepts of supination and pronation requiring specfic shoes is largely imaginary. Of course that may (or may not) be true for the majority of people but there will always be outliers who will need a specific shoe.
    One thing that is definitely true for most people is that if you do use them it will take a lot of time (months) for your body to adjust and feet bones strengthen. Putting them on and doing your normal milage will lead to disaster : )
    However if you've never really run before, or are returning from injury then they might be worth a punt. Personally I love em, but you need to do some research and give some thought as to why to use them.

  • I don't get injuries from my normal shoes do I'm not changing anything.

    They're very expensive too. I would need a very good reason to change.
  • Ok thanks a lot. You have all given me much food for thought. Have been running for about a year and was told 6 months ago at a running shop I was a supinator. If this means nothing really I guess I may try them...
  • some nice info on transitioning to barefoot shoes/running

  • Why change unless you're getting injured ? Sounds an expensive experiment to me.
  • I changed but only because I just broke when I tried to run in normal running shoes. If you do try it I can't stress enough how slowly you need to go. The first few weeks should just be walking in them and at most a 0.5km run. And then go really seriously slowly on the buildup. Expect pain after the runs in your calves as your range of movement gets much larger.


    Frankly, you need a really good reason to change.



  • I don't understand why the transition should take so long. Most of us move easily between a road shoe and a trail shoe. Roadies have about a 12 degree heel raise versus 4 on the trail shoe. If I takes so long to transition across to barefoot shoes is it to mask an underlying injury?
  • a lot of it is the 100% lack o cushioning, trail shoes and even low drop race shoes have some degree of cushion which is more forgiving on heel strike etc. with these you have the road..some protective rubber and then your foot. thats it, the soles of your feet are not used to that and it takes a while to "toughen them up"

    my road shoes were 4mm but when i switched to zero drop it was a huge differece, the achilles and calf get a huge wake up call.

    That said, i think the whole "weeks to months" is excessive, perhaps because i came from lower 4mm drop shoes rather than a 12mm asics or similar i ont know, but i took it easy for a few runs and was upto my previous run distances and at a faster pace within like 2 or 3 weeks, after a week i was just using them for my "shorter" runs  that i;d have been doing anyway. 

  • yep, OK, that makes sense... so it's cushioning rather than angle of dangle!  Which makes some of the advice misleading as the advice you read in most places bangs on about calf lengthening etc.  Which is why experienced trail runners, I was thinking, would have less of an issue moving across.  

  • I found my way into Barefoot running a year ago and apart from a slight injury caused last month from running my first Ultra I have had no problems whatsoever.

    I have mainly used either my bare feet or Vibram Five Finger Bikilas which I find extrememly comfortable, I now also have a pair of 4mm Xero's which I have worn a couple of times and think are great, I'm looking forward to alternating them with my bare feet at the Chester half marathon in May.

    One thing I would say though, and it is from experience is whatever you do, don't do too much too soon.

    As an experienced runner you will have a tendancy to heel-strike and your foot muscles will also need to be built up.   If you do try minimalist shoes then I would strongly advise you tube videos on how to run barefoot and then adapt that to suit yourself so that you can run comfortably.

    You will soon be able to get your speeds back if you run happily image

  • P.s

    Before I started using VFFs/Barefoot, I used to spend a minimum of £100 buying the best trainers there were and suffered permanently from Shin-splints, knee-aches and occasional hip bursitis...........


  • I do short runs in VFFs or New Balance minimus to work on my form. Longer runs its trail shoes.

    The lack of protection in minimalist shoes means your feet need to get conditioned to ground reaction force. Also the Achilles / calf complex is lower to the ground on foot strike causing eccentric loading, so you need to build up gradually and stretch your calves well in between runs. Conditioning drills like skipping will help.

    It is a lovely free feeling running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.. It's easy to do too much too soon. However any elation will be short lived as the next day your calves will have been replaced by blocks of wood.
  • PSC: Actually it is the angle of dangle. Everyone on here has said the calf and achilles will hurt and that is angle not the impact. If you have been running in nearly flat shoes I suspect you will have less of an issue and if you are a mid/fore foot striker anyway you will have even less issue.

    Anyone trying to jump from standard running shoes will have a bigger issue because the change is bigger. Look at it this way, if you bought zero drop shoes with 4mm of cushioning there would still be calf issues. That implies it is not the lack of cushioning which is the issue.

  • I'm looking at trying these as I changed to a chi running style in January. I think the natural style is more suited to barefoot running To help move away from heel striking. I found it took a couple of months to change my style and imagine it would be similar changing style of shoe.

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