Modern life has many comforts that help make life easier for us. Comfort is something that is always desired when it comes to choosing the best kind of shoes to exercise in.

It may be counter intuitive but research is starting to show that shoes with comfortable padding can cause major issues especially over long periods of time.
This post explores;

•Potential damage cause by normal shoes.
•Benefits of exercising with are feet shoes.
•Problems Exercising In Normal Shoes Can Cause
•How to transition from normal shoes to bare feet shoes safely.
•The best bare foot shoe options available today.

"Hi-Tech Shoes...Low Tech Feet"

…Ido Portal

My father grew up in Africa and did not own shoes until the later years of his adolescence. This was the norm for him but for most of us today, this would be unthinkable. To this day my father’s feet are incredibly tough however, research in sports injury is indicating that being bare feet or using bare feet shoes has benefits that go beyond simply having tough feet.

When it comes to movement training, we always encourage students to take their shoes off, get a little uncomfortable and allow the body to work in its natural form building strength from the feet up.

Potential damage caused by normal shoes

When wearing shoes with a lot of comfortable padding, we learn to use movement mechanics that create unnecessary impact on our bones and joint all the way up through the leg and into the spine. Yes, this may be the root of your knee or back problems.

The feet evolved over millions of years to provide us with an excellent foundation for movement. However, but as humans are comfort seeking creatures we have tried to out smart evolution with rubber, foam, plastic and leather.

One of the main ways we run in shoes is using a heel toe action. This is often how we are instructed to run. If our heel hits the ground first, it sends a jolt directly through the ankle joint, up the leg, knee, into the hip and up the spine. This is only made possible because of the shoe heel being so well padded. For an active person this can be happening thousands of times per day. Imagine over a lifetime.

If we use bare feet footwear or use no shoes at all, it is too painful to maintain a heel to toes running action so we are forced to take the impact on the front pad of our feet. This defuses the impact allowing our joints and bones not to suffer this hard impact.

Barefoot Shoes are exercise shoes that have zero drop from heel to toe, no arch support, minimal cushioning at the heel, and a very thin sole of around 3-10 mm.  They allow the toes to spread out in a natural way rather than being restricted in a narrow fronted point at the toe.

Benefits of Exercising With Bare Foot Shoes

Gives AdditionalCushioning; The main action of barefoot shoe is really to provide a soft bed for your feet to be cushioned on. They are made of materials commonly called memory foam which enables adjustment to each of the user’s foot shape.

Increases comfort; Barefoot running shoes are light-weight, flexible and have a large toe box which allows your toes to spread upon landing thus building a more effective step and shorter running pace which reduces the effect of impact.

Helps You Get Through Injury; A lot of people get acquainted to barefoot shoes when they visit their doctors about nagging foot problems. For severe foot injury podiatrists (doctors specializing on foot) recommend these orthotic devices. They also help by isolating and protecting areas of the foot as well as providing support to other areas.

Problems Exercising In Normal Shoes Can Cause

Heel Pain & Plantar Fasciitis;Plantar fasciitis is caused by excess stress on the ligament-type structure within the arch of the foot. The tearing causes inflammation and the inflammation causes pain, most commonly at the inside of the heel. Over million runners develop plantar fasciitis each year.

Stress fractures; A stress fracture is an incomplete break in the bone. In the foot, the long bones (metatarsals) are the most commonly affected. A sudden onset of pain and swelling on the top of the foot is an indication of a stress fracture. Stress fractures are generally not associated with blunt trauma or a specific injury, but are more often linked to unsupportive shoes in combination with overuse. Individuals with flatfeet, overpronation, hypermobility and tight calves are at the greatest risk.

Achilles Tendinitis; Achilles tendinitis and calf related injuries are the most common injuries experienced by runners. Pain may gradually develop at the back of the heel or calf, or come on suddenly as a sharp pain. Pain at the beginning of a run is common as well as pain and stiffness when first stepping down in the morning. Improper training, over training and poor footwear are the three most common reasons for development.

Ankle Sprains; Ankle sprains are a common injury experienced by runners. The most common injury is called an inversion ankle sprain and involves the ankle rolling out while the foot turns in. This causes a partial tearing of one or more of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Most ankle sprains are mild to moderate in severity, but some may be severe and involve complete tearing of the ligaments.

How to Transition From Normal Shoes to Bare Foot Shoes Safely

There are three important steps to look out for while transiting from normal shoes to bare foot shoes. Running on grass or sand is preferable.

Step 1. Start by running no more than 200 yards barefoot on your first day of using barefoot shoe. This may look pretty small, but you’ll experience strain on your feet and calves as they will be working harder than if you were wearing normal shoes.

Step 2. Skip a day after the step above, then add 100 yards to your barefoot running distance every other day. Recovery is vital when working muscles in a new way.

Step 3. For the first two months only run barefoot every other day. However, if you want to run more, you can use your old shoes for the rest of your running time. As you slowly increase your barefoot running time, you can slowly decrease your time in supportive shoes until you no longer need them.

How to determine your foot type

A great way to determine your arch type is the barefoot wet- test. Just wet the bottom of your foot and step onto any dark coloured surface that will create an imprint. Based on your footprint you can get an idea on the type of feet you have. Use the diagrams as a guide to compare your footprints.

The best bare foot shoe options available today


Vibram Five Fingers KSO.

Merrell Vapor Glove

Vibram KMD LS

Merrell Trail Glove

Vivobarefoot Stealth

New Balance Minimus

Have you been thinking about training bare foot training? Let us know what appeals to you most about it in the comments .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *