Barefoot running shoes or minimalist running shoes can be seen everywhere today. Countless marathoners, ultra-marathoners and regular folks have discovered the many benefits of wearing these shoes or glove-like shoes in some cases.
Since more and more runners want to experience barefoot running, the demand for barefoot and minimalist running shoes have increased. Numerous runners feel that the concrete and asphalt surfaces that exist today require some form of foot protection. These minimalist shoes allow runners to experience the mechanisms of barefoot running while still protecting their feet from glass, stones and debris.
True barefoot running shoes do not interfere with the natural movements of the foot. The essence of barefoot running is to receive instant biofeedback from the feet to which the body responds naturally. These shoes are lightweight and flexible and are designed to strengthen the feet. There is no arch support or cushioning support as the goal is to use our natural arches.
These minimalist shoes will have a thin, unpadded sole and there will be slight or no heel-to-toe differential (known as zero-drop). Your feet should not be restricted by your shoes.
Barefoot running shoes will strengthen the metatarsals, plantar fascia and the ligaments in our feet allowing us to use our natural arches. Our feet can spread out more providing support and a wider base for balance, stability and improved posture. You will be able to feel how your body is impacting with the ground and make adjustments to lessen the stress of impact. You will be forced to pay attention to how you are landing or you will experience pain.
If you are new to barefoot running, you will need to transition to your new barefoot running shoes slowly. Keep in mind when you are making your purchase how quickly you want to transition to running in your new shoes.
The greater the difference (support and heel-to-toe differential) between your old shoes and new shoes, the longer it will take you to transition to barefoot running. It is probably a good idea to try walking in your new shoes for a few weeks and then gradually incorporate short running sessions. Walking barefoot or in flat flip-flops will also help condition your feet and allow for wide toe spread.
Another method of transitioning to barefoot running shoes is to run totally barefoot for very short distances and wearing shoes for the remainder of your run. Running totally barefoot will help you develop a better barefoot running form.
There is a vast selection of barefoot running shoes available from which to choose. The first on the market was the Vibram FiveFingers. They were initially introduced for water sports, but they quickly became popular with runners who wanted to experience barefoot running while still protecting their feet.The Vibram FiveFingers are now available in a variety of models, styles and colors. They vary in weight but average around 5.7 ozs. The heel sits a mere 7.2 mm high. This is quite low considering the average running shoe is 35 mm high.
These barefoot running shoes have a unique design with 5 toe pods. The toe separation eliminates many foot problems that runners experience including athletes foot, chafing and black toenails from running. As these shoes are quite low, you will need to slowly transition to them.
Choose a model that has a great fit and is comfortable for you. Each style has a different feel. They should be worn loose and many prefer to wear them with socks, but you can wear them without socks. The average retail price is approximately $130 US. Check out the various styles below:
Vivobarefoot Primus running shoes are designed for the ultimate barefoot experience. The Primus Lite and Trail were the first in the line but it has since expanded to include a wider range to support the barefoot lifestyle. These shoes have a distinctive big toe flex point and a wide lower lace gusset to allow for easy movement in lightweight, breathable material.
All materials are 100% vegan. There is zero heel to toe differential and some shoes in this range include a removable sock liner for versatility and quick drying.
The Primus Swimrun is designed for use over land and sea with a lightweight and breathable construction. It features a neoprene ankle for comfort both in and out of the water and an extra-sticky sole providing superior grip.
If you want to continue to run in barefoot running shoes during the winter when it is cold and wet, the Merrell Vapor Glove Luna Leather is a good choice. It is not promoted as a waterproof running shoe but many barefoot runners say that it really helps to keep feet warm and dry in wet conditions. It has a soft, full grain leather upper and breathable mesh lining for a comfortable sock-like feel.
New Balance has a great minimal running shoe called New Balance Minimus Trail Runner. It has been around for a while but it is still very popular among minimalist runners. It is lightweight at about 7 ozs, has a 4 mm drop and it is comfortable with or without socks.
Holabird Sports is a trusted sports apparel store with lots of great deals and free shipping to the USA on orders over $35. They have a vast selection of barefoot running shoes:
The Nike Free Running shoes have become quite popular as minimal and racing shoes as they provide a good fit and are very flexible and lightweight. The latest model is the Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 and it is a huge leap towards a more barefoot feel as it is lighter and closer to the ground than previous versions.
These shoes look more like regular running shoes but because of their flexible sole, they can be used to strengthen the foot and provide a more natural running experience. Check out the latest models:
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