What is barefoot running?
It depends who you ask. Some people only consider it to be barefoot running if there is absolutely nothing on your feet. Most people, however, use the term to include running with extremely minimal footwear (also known as “barefoot shoes”) such as Vibram FiveFingers, Vivo Barefoot, or Xero Shoes for example.
What are barefoot shoes?
Barefoot shoes have the following things in common:
- Extremely thin soles
- Extremely flexible (you should be able to roll the shoe up)
- Zero “drop”, i.e. no difference between the hight of the heel and the toe
- Wide toe-box
- Straps around your heel, i.e. not a flip-flop that requires you to grip with your toes to keep the shoe on as you walk or run.
What are the benefits of barefoot running?
Running barefoot or in minimal shoes encourages you to land on the mid-foot or fore-foot rather than coming down on the heel. This reduces the impact on the other joints in your body.
Running barefoot builds strength in your feet and it also encourages smaller steps which can increase your running efficiency.
Is barefoot running right for me?
If you have spent most of your life in modern, built up shoes, suddenly asking your bare feet to take on the demands of lots of running is probably too much.
It has very little to do with how much running you currently do if that running has all been done in cushioned, structured footwear.
The transition needs to be slow
It can take years to build up the strength and mobility required for barefoot running. But that’s OK. Building strength and mobility is the whole point of natural movement, so as long as you aren’t getting injured then any improvement is a step in the right direction.
Take a look at these minimal shoe reviews to get you started: