barefoot running, good or bad for you

I currently run in New Balance 940's but I'm intrigued by barefoot shoes. I'm in the middle of 'Born to Run' where the author is advocating barefoot shoes. Will they help my pronation issues or hinder them? I run 5k mainly, but up to marathons


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    What are your pronation issues?

  • I don't think he does advocate barefoot running in his book. He does, however question the running shoe industry and whether the expensive motion control shoes are in fact of any use or could even cause injury. He talks of pronation as being a natural part of running and doesn't cause injury. I think you need to finish the book and make your own mind up. 

    To add my views I like lightweight shoes but fall short of minimalist purely because there a lot of sharp stones, glass etc out there and you need some protection. The character "Barefoot Ted" in the book ends up with his feet cut to pieces at the end of the race. 

  • RicF, I have to be honest and say I don't know. The running shop I had my gait looked at in advised me to get my New Balance shoes. What type of issue I had never registered ????
  • XX1XX1 ✭✭✭

    Just for clarity what do people mean by "barefoot" shoes and "minimalist" shoes?

  • Why not have a look at the thread "Gait analysis, is it a waste of time?" thread Steve?

  • personally I would say yes it is a waste of time unless coached.  there so many factors to consider.  just you tube bare foot running.

    the body has to be aligned in a straight line, cadence has to be maintained, and the pelvis needs to be in the right place. 

    I have read a number of articles and it also appears that even if all the above are good and correct, injuries may still be caused by the hard pavement/road.

    it is simply pie in the sky for most runners.



  • Surprised Ben hasn't jumped in yet.....

    i thought he could smell the word 'gait analysis' from miles away image

  • I don't consider Nike free, Saucony Kinvara etc. minimalist.

    in contrast, VivoBarefoot Neo, Evo etc. have about a 5 mm sole, no heel-toe difference: basically they provide protection from glass, thorns, dog muck and so on. (and provide extra traction with Neo/Breatho trail shoes), but with practically no cushioning; they are not only very flexible but also really let you feel the ground and allow your foot to move in a more natural manner.

    If Kinvara, Frees etc. are going to be called minimalist then the VBs etc. need to be called "barefoot shoes" because really, they're completely different. I found that I muscled up my feet quite a bit by running in the Neos all the time (and occasionally running barefoot). But you have to start with short distances and really work on your running form.

    I chose to move to VB Neos to assist in changing my running style to shorter stride, higher cadence etc., because they helped me to feel the ground, feel how I was landing.

  • I just fancy trying them out. Might invest and see
  • I run in Nike free 4.0 v2's and love them! I used the "heels" before and always seemed to have sore knees. Since using free's I generally don't have any problems. Just bought some NB trail shoes the 1010's. They feel very similar but with better grip.

    My advice would be to take it easy when you start! And make sure you have a forefoot plant not heel strike and a smaller stride.


  • Right. That's next month's purchase sorted out. Won't find out if I can live with them til I buy some and have a go. Thanks all for input
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Over 25 years ago I routinely trained in race shoes. But I only weighed 8 stone something and could skoot along at sub seven pace off road barely breathing.

    Obviously ahead of my time, along with trail running and HR monitors.

  • XX1XX1 ✭✭✭

    What shoes are you intending to purchase?

  •  Running barefoot can decrease pronation on the foot’s impact with the ground. This is thought to be because running shoes have extra weight for cushioning at the heel of the shoe, causing the runner to heel strike more, which in turn results in increased pronation during the step. According to Stacoff, Kaelin, and Steussi, researchers at the Biomechanics Laboratory, “The least amount of pronation takes place when running barefoot."

    Running barefoot can help reduce or eliminate this evil pronation issue that is heavily marketed by running shoe companies as being the main cause behind most injuries. Running shoe companies have created various different shoes that attempt to correct or prevent pronation and assume the neutral position is the only good position the foot must land in.

    Could it be regardless if runners feet land normal, rolls in or rolls out, foot landing position may not have any impact upon injury rate?

  • If you think "barefoot shoes" don't exist, then "nude tights" must really screw with your head.

  • Hi Debra,

    As part of my recovery I am now running in Brooks pure drift with the liner removed so that they are zero drop.  Do they count as minimalist or bare foot shoes?  I like them because they are light and have a wide toe box. 

    Also because they are so light they minimise impact which protects my shins.

  • Hi Surrey Runner, I don't know enough about them to say which I'd consider them to be. Looking at a review on the web, I'd say they couldn't be considered "barefoot shoes" if worn with the insert providing a 3-4 mm heel-toe drop. Even without that, maybe too much cushioning to be "barefoot"? The light weight and wide toe box are good features. I think there's a gradation rather than a definite line, and different people are going to have different opinions as to where they draw the line. I'd consider my Inov8 Trailroc 235s minimalist rather than barefoot (I bought them for the Lakeland 50, because on those trails I wanted a bit more underfoot protection/cushioning than in the VivoBarefoot Neo Trails I used for my other 50-milers) - while the Trailroc 150 surely would be "barefoot" (just with added traction!)

  • I'm not a barefoot purist: I don't have a problem with that. I love running barefoot; I've run a grassy/muddy parkrun barefoot, for example. But foot coverings (aka shoes) are useful tools which have their place, just like the body coverings (waterproof coat and warm layer) which stopped me from getting hypothermia out on the SDW50 last year were useful tools. I want to be able to go for long trail runs without having to consider every step what might be hidden on the overgrown path etc. (thinking about how NDW looked last year), and I don't see myself running 50-mile trail races barefoot any time soon.

  • Thanks Debra, 

    I've taken out the insert so it is a zero drop.  There is some cushioning still but much.much less than my previous shoes.  May try and go further next time though put off from running completely barefoot due to strange looks I would get. 

  • Surrey Runner: glad if I've helped. Warning: the more you get used to minimalist shoes the more you will find that standard running shoes feel like planks of wood strapped to your feet. For example, while trying on the Inov 8 Trailroc 235s I also tried to 245s, which have a rock plate (and 3 mm drop), and could tell in a few jog steps around the shop that I didn't want them - not flexible enough. And as for getting back into my old Mizuno Wave Riders - forget it! I -do- recommend trying actual barefoot sometimes - I started by running round a sports field with minimalist shoes on, checking there were no nasty surprises, then running a lap of the field barefoot. An added benefit of being able to run barefoot is that if you feel any tenderness of/over tendons, whether Achilles' tendon or the extensor tendons on the top of your feet, you can try running with no shoes on: if there's no tenderness barefoot then the problem is likely to be pressure from the shoes/laces rather than an actual tendon problem.

    Flob: I agree - but while some of the so-called "minimalist" shoes are so far from being minimalist, then "barefoot shoes" seems to be the only naming option left! The ones I'm willing to call "barefoot shoes" in such circumstances (although you're right that "true minimalist" would be a better name) have zero drop and almost no cushioning, are flexible, allow you to spread your toes, enable you to feel the ground underfoot and encourage a "barefoot style" of running (high cadence, short stride, landing with your foot under you and forefoot or midfoot rather than heel striking, etc.) - but do provide some protection from the glass, dog poop, thorns etc. which I, for one, appreciate.

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