The recent increase in popularity of barefoot running is all the rage these days. Pilots in aviation are even trolling the skies with barefoot pilots to become the next extreme sport craze. But is barefoot running a legitimate way to increase your health? Well, if you look at the history of barefoot running, you will quickly discover that it has been around for quite some time. Over the last several decades, many people have gone full-blown barefoot running.

As early as 2011, elites in the running community have been saying that wearing shoes is bad for you. The reasoning behind this is that running barefoot leads to a better gait, which is important as it helps improve strength, flexibility, and stability of the body. While there is no doubt that running barefoot has its benefits, it’s also no secret that it has drawbacks when it comes to injury prevention.

I was skeptical when I first looked into the concept of barefoot running, but after reading up on the subject, I find myself intrigued by the idea and eager to give it a try. I don’t run much these days, but I’m always up for a new challenge. And for some strange reason, the idea of running barefoot seems to have a lot of potential.

Westerners have been walking in muddy shoes for more than 40 years in the hopes of avoiding injury and moving quicker. Runners who go barefoot or with little footwear, on the other hand, claim that running without shoes or with minimal shoes is safer and better.

Who is correct? And, in order to run as healthily as possible, what shoes should you wear? In this thought-provoking essay, you may learn more about it.

[Note: This article is also available as an audio recording.] If you’d want to listen to the piece instead, go here].


The origins of muddy shoes

People used to go about without wearing shoes. Or they wore huaraches, which are basic sandals. The dirt roads were trodden. They passed through steep canyons on their route to their destination. They raced across lush meadows. Everyone was barefoot or almost so.

People still walk this way in certain areas of the globe.

Meanwhile, in the West, during the past four decades, an entire industry has sprung up around running shoe technology.

Many of us nowadays believe that we should not even consider stepping outdoors unless we are wearing running shoes with gel insoles, outsoles, midsoles, outsoles, and laces.

However, there is another side to the story: barefoot runners.

It’s been said that the trend for shoes with extensions is a joke. You believe it is preferable to return to more natural running shoes. Or, better yet, no shoes at all.

So, who is correct?



Since the dawn of time, people have been walking. To hunt, to flee danger, and to have pleasure. In reality, the races have been documented since 1829 BC.

However, it wasn’t until the 1960s when untrained athletes started to run as a form of exercise on a regular basis. There is also a growing interest in sport-specific footwear among this new generation of runners.

Nike’s distinctive embossed profile will soon be available in shops. Its popularity may be attributed to the fact that it was lighter than other shoes at the time.

This shoe has practically little heel lift when compared to its predecessors.

Take a look at the difference between the original sneaker and the 2007 homage version.


See how much foam there is and how much business is up? It’s a significant distinction.

What occurred in the past thirty years to cause the shoe’s form to change? Science and new materials

Scientists have been engaged in the creation of running shoes since the mid-1970s. The words neutral, pronation, and supination had entered the lexicon of runners at the time.

Suddenly, buying the shoes that appeared to fit the best and make you feel the most comfortable wasn’t enough. Instead, you had to figure out your running style and choose shoes that would cure your dysfunction while also protecting you from harm.

In theory, this sounds logical. Who wants to be injured, after all?

There was only one little snag. Despite the fact that experts were involved in the creation, no running shoe type has been shown to decrease injuries!

Shoe shop

Meanwhile, at the factories, inventors were developing new kinds of rubber. These new materials, which are included into the shoe’s sole to increase lift, decrease impact, and restore energy to the foot during long endurance runs, should help you go the distance with greater confidence.

Recent study, however, suggests that these sophisticated soles don’t really save our feet from colliding with the road when they come into touch with the asphalt. They, on the other hand, keep us from recognizing it.

As a result of these results, a movement for more minimalist footwear has emerged.

Designer Robert Fleury received a patent for a five-toed shoe in 1999, and Vibram was the first to commercialize it in 2005.

The popularity of five-footers and other low-profile shoes skyrocketed in the years that followed. More sportsmen and regular people are discussing the advantages of it in public forums and sports publications.

If the shoe is right for you…

We can now walk without shoes, in minimal shoes (shoes with no heel and little cushioning), or in soft, non-flexible sneakers with a heel.

It’s wonderful to have the option. However, they may sometimes be perplexing.

So, before you go out and purchase a new pair of shoes (or toss your old ones away), you should know this:

1. Which method is the most effective in terms of performance? 2. Is one method more secure than the other?

And you’ll almost certainly want to base your choice on the facts.

The findings of the study

The verdict is still out on the Cliffs Notes/Coles Notes edition.

There just aren’t enough research to back up absolute claims.

We know that running barefoot or in minimalist shoes can improve athletic performance. But that may have more to do with the speech than the shoe itself.

Meanwhile, it’s still unclear if minimalist shoes, as opposed to heavier shoes, decrease the chance of injury.

Does this imply that cushioned shoes help to avoid injuries?

Not at all.

No shoes, no form

Here’s an interesting fact. Despite promises from shoe makers that integrated design would safeguard us, the incidence of running accidents has not decreased: Injuries caused by running have been constant throughout the past four decades.

In reality, no study on various kinds of footwear has shown that they have a meaningful impact on injury rates.

It turns out that the way we walk is more significant than the shoes we wear.

And excellent form, which includes shock resistance and flexibility, may protect us from damage and help us perform better than any shoe kind.

Forces of impact

Tokens are divided into three categories.

  1. Attackers that are on their back foot (their heel touches the ground first)
  2. striker with a midfoot strike (toe and heel touch the ground)
  3. to the future (the toe touches the ground and the heel does not touch the ground).

Most of us have a natural or favored style. However, we may learn to utilize other equipment. Our shoes (or lack thereof) may also influence how we walk.

According to studies, individuals who walk barefoot strike with their forefoot or midfoot first.

Runners in shoes, on the other hand, tend to strike the top of the foot.

In reality, for certain individuals, soft, inflexible shoes may induce this kind of gait. This is particularly true for individuals who target the stomach reflexively.

What exactly do you mean? The stitched section of the shoe is now so large that landing on the midfoot is almost impossible. The route of least resistance becomes the rear leg kick.

What’s the difference between back, center, and front?

The rear lead feet fall with 1.5 to 3 times the body weight, which is considerably greater power than the middle or front lead feet.

Consider how you’d feel if an item 1.5 to 3 times your weight landed on another area of your body a few times.

Ouch! It’s no surprise that running has its drawbacks.

At the same time, midfoot and forefoot hitters have a considerably lesser impact.


Nature, 463 (7280), 531-535, Lieberman, D., et al.

Increased exercise behavior as a result of increased compliance

Backstrokers not only walk with a stiff extended leg, but they also strike the ground harder. Much of the additional power is delivered to the body in this posture.

Forefoot and midfoot attackers have the upper hand once again. The ankles become softer and more flexible when the knees are bent and the feet are beneath the hips.

This implies they are more sensitive to their surroundings. In real time, the forces in the barrel may be changed.

Do you want to know what I’m talking about? See how responsive and fast your stride is to the ground by walking barefoot on grass or sand.

Compensation in general

O, leg

It’s simple to understand why impact fractures (or microfractures) are one of the most frequent running injuries based on the information above.

It’s no surprise that shoemakers include padding in their designs.

This dampening may help to lessen the impact of the rear leg kick.

However, no more than 10%. The majority of the starch is kept. We simply have a distinct vibe. In the long term, this may be detrimental to us. (In a sense).

Running produces a lot of power, so you’d think it would help us strengthen our bones.

Unfortunately, although running has numerous advantages, one of them is increased bone mineral density.

Muscle mass is required to produce bone mass. Sports like racquetball and soccer, as well as strength-training activities that press the bones all the way down, are the most effective at increasing bone mineral density.

Tissue that connects things together

Runners often complain about plantar fasciitis, commonly known as runner’s heel, in addition to microfractures.

The pain is typically felt in the foot, although it is produced by stress in the calf muscles or Achilles tendons.

Plantar fasciitis is more likely to develop when the foot is struck from behind. For runners who run on their midfoot or forefoot, this danger does not seem to exist.


It may seem self-evident, yet certain areas are simpler and safer to go barefoot or with little footwear than others.

Hard surfaces, contrary to popular belief, are not especially hazardous when struck with the forefoot or midfoot. Weather and other variables, on the other hand, may be.

Walking barefoot on snow and ice is not recommended. However, the shoes keep us from becoming too cold.

Dr. Mick Wilkinson may be doing the Great North Run barefoot in the United Kingdom, but Iqaluit runners should think twice. You have lost all sensation in your feet if they are numb. And losing your sensitivity may cause you to be wounded without even recognizing it. It’s bad news.

You should also safeguard your feet if you reside in an area with shattered glass, sharp stones, needles, or rusty nails.

For obvious reasons, walking barefoot at night is also very dangerous. You may be stepping on something you don’t need if you can’t see the ground.

In summary, walking barefoot on a sunny beach in Aruba is one thing. It’s something another entirely to attempt it on a cold January night in the Bronx.


Walking barefoot or with minimal footwear favors a forefoot or midfoot pattern. But does this mean that barefoot or minimal footwear runners suffer fewer injuries?

Perhaps, but we don’t have enough evidence to be certain.

Soft, inflexible shoes have been shown to contribute to a false feeling of security in gait. We start to lose track of how we walk.

This is an issue since shoes do not completely reduce the stress load that many gait disorders produce. However, being conscious of your approach and adjusting it as needed may be beneficial.

However, if you decide to convert to minimal shoes or go barefoot after wearing stringent uppers, proceed with caution. It takes time for the feet to adjust to their new posture. Build slowly and realistically.

What about the ability to perform?

At all speeds, barefoot runners and runners wearing light shoes take shorter, quicker steps than runners wearing shoes. In most cases, this is a positive thing.

There are intriguing tradeoffs between stride length and stride frequency in long distance running, but top athletes take approximately 180+ steps per minute, whereas non-elite runners take about 140-160 steps per minute. Runners who use orthotics take 140-160 steps per minute on average, regardless of their pace.

According to this basic fact, minimalist shoes that put the foot below the hip enhance elite cadence and prevent unnecessary jogging.

However, while jogging at less than 15 km/h, research indicates that the rear legs use somewhat less oxygen than the middle front legs. This may theoretically lead to a boost in productivity.

Despite this, the forwards continue to shine in energy-intensive ultramarathons.

To put it another way, it seems that no one variable can account for all aspects of performance.

There are many more reasons to choose minimalist shoes.

Jogging barefoot or in minimalist shoes promotes healthy running, as you may have imagined. However, high-tech shoes may also be used to walk like this.

Before minimalist shoes were accessible, the ChiRunning program, which aims to enhance running form, was already promoting forefoot movement and other similar processes in 1999; sports scientist Michael Yessis did the same in his 2000 book Explosive Running.

However, there may be other compelling reasons for this change.

Minimalist runners say they are more conscious of their bodies in space (proprioception). Better proprioception, in turn, enhances balance and stability.

Furthermore, owing to the ground’s higher retraction, the joints are placed under more pressure.

When you go from minimalist footwear to genuine barefoot walking, all of this is magnified.

When your foot’s sole makes contact with the earth, you will feel a variety of sensations. It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dry. Do you recall playing in the mud or digging in the fresh sand when you were a kid? It’s wonderful to be able to feel with your feet!

Should you avoid wearing minimalist shoes or going barefoot?

Minimalist shoes are suitable for most foot types. There are, however, certain exceptions.

Let’s look at it more closely.

Flat feet

If you have flat feet, you may need arch support.

However, try to walk or run barefoot or in soft shoes at least once a day. Your legs will get stronger, and you may notice a difference in how you feel.


Perhaps you use orthopedic inserts. Is this a sign that you won’t be able to maintain your minimalist lifestyle?

It depends on the situation.

It’s ideal to wear shoes with adequate space for orthotics if you’re using them for a metatarsal or forefoot problem. You’ll be in a lot of discomfort if you don’t take additional precautions.

However, if orthotics are just a temporary remedy for non-specific discomfort, exercising greater dynamic joint mobility and progressively obtaining more flexible shoes may help you improve your posture and gait while also increasing your mobility. Braces may even be removed.

Numbness and deformities of the feet

People with foot abnormalities that impair gait (e.g. club feet) should be especially cautious. If they are properly taught, they can walk in minimalist shoes or barefoot. (In this scenario, I’ve worked with runners.)

Walking barefoot may help you get rid of calluses. Although it seems paradoxical since the forefoot strikes the ground with more power, numerous runners have confirmed this impact.

The only individuals who should avoid wearing minimalist shoes or going barefoot are those who have a disease that causes neuropathy in the feet (such as diabetes).

Is it just for walking?

What if you’re not a fan of walking? Are there any additional locations where minimalist shoes may be worn?

Yes, absolutely.

Hiking with minimalist shoes is a fantastic experience. The earth under your feet may be felt quite clearly. It’s like being a child again, according to those who do it.

Furthermore, an old-school approach to powerlifting favors Converse Chuck Taylors above all other types of shoes because they enable the user to feel the ground. Many people who utilize exercise bikes prefer to do it barefoot.

What about the rest of the sports?

Minimalist shoes, as wonderful as they are, are not appropriate for all activities. For some activities, even the most passionate barefoot and minimalist will need laces.

Dr. Mick Wilkinson, who goes barefoot in the north of the United Kingdom for the most of the year, wears racquetball shoes. For sprints, Steven Sashen, the guy who improved the Huarache with Xero shoes, uses spikes.

It’d be difficult to kick a football without some toe protection. Stiff soles provide a lot of pedaling force in cycling.

There’s also a history of climbing shoes, from boxer-style lacing to stiff alternatives with a hardwood bottom and a little heel lift to relieve strain on the Achilles tendon.

How to Pick the Right Minimalist Shoes

Assume you’re fascinated by the search and want to test minimalist shoes. How can you spot minimalist footwear?

To begin with, there are a variety of styles available, ranging from split-toe choices to shoes that resemble conventional boots.

However, all minimalist boots share the following features:

  • The front and rear linings of the boot are approximately the same size and aren’t very thick.
  • The sole is going to be flexible. At mid-foot level, you can simply bend it. That’s not all, however. Along its longitudinal axis, it will also twist. It’s probably not minimalism if you can’t twirl it around like a napkin.
  • There will be no hard and fast rules.


Switch to minimalist footwear and go barefoot.

Make the switch to minimalist shoes or barefoot running gradually if you’re ready.

(I can’t emphasize this enough; I’ll say it again: gradual transition.)

Increase B, for example. Check the suppleness of your shoes first, and then think about making them less slick. Consider it an experiment in which just one variable is changed at a time.

  1. Begin from the inside: Wear these less structured shoes at home, at the workplace, or on the stairs throughout the day to get your foot accustomed to them.
  2. After a few days, leave. Then take a 15-minute stroll outdoors while wearing your shoes. Examine how you feel when you walk on various surfaces. At first, your legs may feel weary. Stop before they get inflamed.
  3. Consider it a kind of gradual resistance. All the better if your feet don’t ache after 15 minutes on the first day! Please move out of the way. The following day, try 20 minutes.
  4. Continue to raise the speed gradually. You may be ready for longer walks if you haven’t been outdoors for more than an hour and feel comfortable. Bring a backup pair of shoes in case you need to change.
  5. If you decide to raise the length or intensity of your exercise, have a back-up plan. Prepare an escape route, such as a bus station or a taxi queue, to go back to your starting point. When your feet begin to ache, you will feel less stressed as a result of this.
  6. Before you go, practice your approach. If you intend on running, start by practicing a more medial or forward step to prepare your calves and hips for this new movement. Check out how you’re feeling. You may get assistance from a coach.
  7. Consider the length and frequency of your steps as you begin running. Calculate the sale again. When you strike with your front or center foot, try to maintain your cadence around the 180 range.
  8. Take care. Before you attempt anything like Friesen, see how your calves feel in regular shoes.
  9. In your new shoes, gradually practice on a new method. After you’ve made the necessary adjustments, go for a 15-minute walk on various surfaces with minimal shoes.
  10. Step by step, construct it. You’ll disregard it if I don’t repeat it a million times. As a result, you must proceed cautiously. Unless you like suffering and trauma. If that’s the case, invest in a pair of minimalist shoes and commit to running 5 kilometers for the first week.

You may begin to decrease the resistance in your shoes after you are happy with your improved mobility and have studied your gait and the changes in your forefoot muscles throughout your run.

Begin developing at a comfortable temperature inside. The majority of minimalist shoes have a 4 to 7 mm depth. This is a significant departure from the Free or any previous curved shoe.

When you first go outdoors, you should keep a careful eye on the ground. Again, take your time and start with modest steps.

Before heading outdoors, I recommend running inside in shoes with thin bottoms, such as Vibram Five Fingers or Merell Trail Gloves. Again, if you want to take it a step further and go barefoot, you’ll have to follow the same steps.

It’s a thrilling journey. Your feet may now be massaged by surfaces you’ve never felt before.

Problems with joint mobility

Practice dynamic joint mobility as a supplementary method to prepare for minimalist footwear.

Walking and running include more than just the foot. Minimalist shoes urge us to move more and utilize our joints.

We become more sensitive and more equipped to handle new demands by focusing on dynamic joint mobility, particularly stimulating the awareness of the nerve system surrounding our joints.

Usually, you should pay attention to your body.

Since 2008, when I began wearing Vibram Five Fingers, my shoes have passed the coolness test. Since then, I’ve amassed a sizable collection of torsion-resistant shoes. (However, I haven’t gone as far as chainmail.)

If you decide to make a change, bear in mind that drugs take time to build up. Months have passed.

However, if you progressively transition to minimalist shoes, you may never go back.

Even in the case of something as basic as shoes.

is unique to you.


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A. Gutmann, J. G. Gutmann, and J. G. Gutmann, A. Gutmann. Thompson, M.A., A. Gutmann, J. G. Gutmann, J. G. Gutmann, J. G. Gutmann, J. G. Gutmann, McGowan, C.P. Sigmiller. The effect of stride length on the dynamics of barefoot and shoed walking. Biomechanics is a journal dedicated to the study of biomechanics (2014).

Anatomical proof of man’s earliest usage of shoes, by Eric Trinkaus. Journal of Archaeological Sciences is a publication dedicated to the study of archaeology (2005).

D S Blaze, Douglas H Green, and Brian Wurtzinger. Williams, D S Blaze, Douglas H Green, and Brian Wurtzinger. During forefoot and barefoot walking, there are differences in lower limb kinematics and energy absorption. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes (2012).

Songning Zhang, Xuli Zhang, Max R. Puckett The biomechanics of walking in flip-flops, sandals, and shoes are compared. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Research is a publication dedicated to the study of the feet (2013).

Berger, L.R., and B. Zipfel. Shod vs. unshod feet: Is there a difference in the prevalence of forefoot disease in contemporary man? The Toes (2007).

In the past year, a new movement has swept across the nation: barefoot running. First popularized by Pete Magill, barefoot running has evolved into a widespread trend, with more and more people running in the woods, sand dunes, and even on sidewalks. As a result, the running shoe industry is fighting back, with competitors coming up with all sorts of new inventions aimed at making running more barefoot-friendly.. Read more about barefoot running injuries and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is barefoot running really better for you?

Barefoot running is a type of running that has been shown to be more efficient than traditional running. It is also seen as being better for your joints and muscles, due to the lack of impact on the feet.

Is barefoot running a fad?

Barefoot running is a fad.

Are barefoot shoes healthy?

It is not recommended to wear barefoot shoes because they can cause foot injuries.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • barefoot running technique
  • barefoot running
  • barefoot running injuries
  • running barefoot benefits
  • how to run barefoot
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