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Barefoot Running: The Best Way To Go?

By Edited Aug 22, 2016 2 2

Barefoot Running

Lose The Footwear!

We're going running and we don't need to bother putting on our shoes. If it's going to make us run faster then hey why not? Barefoot running is a way of jogging without any footwear. It sounds crazy but it may actually be healthier than running with shoes. This type of running will force the runner’s strike pattern to change to forefoot instead of the heels.


This enables you to have more shock absorption and muscle activation. The injury rate is much lower when you are barefoot running than if you are running with cushioned shoes. Though there are still risks like stepping on sharp objects.

Barefoot running is not safe in all areas, so some footwear is recommended. Not all footwear are created equally though, so I’ll show you the top 5 barefoot shoes that you can wear to reap the same benefits as the barefoot runners.


Striking On The Ground

If you are already a barefoot runner, you may already notice that you land near your toes or mid foot. Landing on your heels seem almost impossible without cushioning so it is very uncomfortable to do so for long distances.


As a beginning barefoot runner, you may land on your heels as you are already adapted to the average runner’s shoes. This will feel uncomfortable so you will naturally try to make the strides shorter while trying to land on the forefoot. Any changes you make to your running may take more energy and effort but this usually only happens in the first few weeks.

Along with different landing, comes with different strides. When you run on cushioned running shoes, strides are longer and landing is easier on the heels. With barefoot running, the strides are shorter because you are striking with your forefoot.

However, a study by“Gait & Posture” shows if a runner doesn’t change their striking and continues landing on the heels while barefoot, they are more vulnerable to injuries. If you are barefoot or wearing runner’s shoes, if you land on your forefoot the demands of the impact are shifted to the calves and equally distributed through the legs.


The impact is much more natural when running barefoot so shin splints or knee pain are almost non-existent. Cushioned running shoes allow you to land on your heels which uses less muscle activation of the lower legs and distribute more of the impact to your shins and knees.

This shows us how much of a difference that the landing of the runner may be. However studies show that the striking of a runner may be difficult to change and some may never adopt to striking forefoot instead of the heels.

Preventing Injuries

Now we know that there is more muscle activation involved in barefoot running and the impact of the strikes are distributed more naturally than cushioned running, so this may decrease the likelihood of an injury.

When you are running barefoot, your ankles become stronger along with your tendons and ligaments. If you try to go barefoot running you should slowly make the transition because it may be too much for your ankle to endure. Your ankles will not benefit through cushioned shoes, overtime this will not prepare it for the impact it will have through barefoot running.


Again, make sure you slowly make the transition to barefoot running because you need to build muscles and strength where it has been weakened from cushioned running. Landing through the heels will not give elastic energy that the ankle extensors needs. This will not happen overnight so you will need to strengthen your ankles and legs through barefoot running.


Calf strains and Achilles tendonitis can be prevented and avoided by switching your landing to your forefoot. By doing so, you will be able to have more flexibility in the calves and the Achilles tendon.

Barefoot running will also prevent injuries due to loss of balance. Smaller muscles in the legs are activated fully so you will learn to have more balance and coördination.

The adaptions of year’s worth of wearing cushioned shoes will lead to tender feet and weaker muscles especially your smaller ones so you should slowly let your feet adapt to running without any wear.  Also you should expect blisters, they will turn into calluses and it will only occur for the first couple of weeks.

Blisters should be the last of your worries when you know that you have to be aware of the objects on the road before you step into something you can’t get out of.

If you are in an area where lots of people take their dogs for walks, you may want to watch out for the big brown stuff. When it’s between your toes, you’ll know you stepped in it.

To get that picture out of your mind, watch out for sharp objects. It may be hard to watch out if every step is a risky one especially if you are in the city.


Minimal footwear is recommended if you are in such high risk areas.  Shortly, I will recommend shoes that are designed to give you the same benefits as barefoot running except with protection and comfort.

As you become more experienced with barefoot running, you will become super efficient at scanning the ground that’s before you. At first, it may take a lot of effort. Though as you adapt, it will be easy and you will do it effortlessly.

Born to Run
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)

Choosing The Right Shoes

In 2009, one of the best selling books came out and it changed the way runners run and think. The book is called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.. Nike, Adidas and such companies began to panic and they realized that people might stop wearing shoes. To me that seemed obscured until they found out another way around that. They decided to make shoes that resembles barefoot running and they did it successfully.


After doing some research on the different barefoot shoes that various companies offer, I’ve found several that you should look into. I don’t have any personal experience with them but I do know that barefoot running has massive benefits that will change the way people run forever. I do my running on rocks and beaches so I know my feet went from tender to rock solid as I’ve adapted them to barefoot running.

Vibram Fivefingers

These are one of the first shoes I’ve seen that came close to barefoot running. My brother wears them and he has said nothing but good things about them. The padding is very light so it forces you to run with proper striking and strides. It provides individual pods and protection for each of your toes, giving it a fuller range of motion. The only thing is that you look like you're wearing small socks or something close to resembling apes feet. The whole toe look gives it something you would only want to wear in the gym or in your workouts.

Adidas Adapt

If you prefer to run in socks than you will love these. The material feels stretchy and it feels like wearing socks. They are a bit small and very light. The padding is almost close to none and they are unique in the way that they adapt to your feet size. These are the most minimal you can get to when it comes to barefoot running.

On-Running Mens CloudRacer Silver/Orange Running Shoe - 10
Amazon Price: $130.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)
Vibram Vibram Fivefingers Men's Komodosport Ls, Black/Grey/Green, 44
Amazon Price: $109.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)

Cloudracer And Cloudsurfer

This is a great one for beginners who want to try barefoot running is Cloudsurfer and Cloudracer: The name gives you an idea of these shoes. They are cushioned but the way the shoes are designed, they let you start in a barefoot fashion. It’s not only Comfortable but it absorbs some of the impact with it’s padding. It’s sort of a mix between barefoot and the average runner’s shoes that allows you to land on your heels. As an experienced runner who is used to running without any footwear at all, I wouldn’t recommend these unless you are a beginner.

On Cloudsurfer - Men's ( sz. 09.0 Width - D, Black/Lime )
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)
Merrell Men's Barefoot Flux Glove Sport,Black/Light Firefly,12 M US
Amazon Price: $100.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)

Merrel Flux Glove Sport

You will definelty feel the ground that you are running on with these. They have some arch support and the feel is like wearing gloves on your feet. When you are as close to the ground with very little padding support, your senses will be enlightened with the feel of each strike you take on the ground. These are great for those who love the feeling of running barefoot and it provides a tight fitting that is comfortable enough to be worn all day.

Nike Free Run

Nike Free 4.0 V2 Running Shoes - 11 - Green
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)

Nike Free Run

When I first saw the pictures of these shoes, I knew it's made for someone who wants to run barefoot with some cushion that of a runners shoes. These are slightly cushioned which is great to absorb some of the impact. Though for me, I would only wear these shoes for marathons because it provides enough cushion but still gives benefits from barefoot running. I wouldn't wear these for my regular runs though because I like to run 100% barefoot. These are very flexible and light, that will be the first thing you will notice about these shoes. Overall, these shoes give a perfect chance for regular runners to switch to barefoot while providing some style of a runners shoes. These are perfect for beginners, it gives safety and provides slow transition to running barefoot. 

Run Barefoot Run Healthy: Less Pain More Gain For Runners Over 30
Amazon Price: $14.95 $2.95 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 22, 2016)

Before You Go Barefoot...

The best advice any barefoot runner will give you is that you should slowly make the transition and let your body take it’s time to adapt completely. It’s a whole another level when you are using your bare feet to run, you feel everything you step into.


Every step should be carefully taken in order to reduce the chances of an injury. The feeling of the ground against your bare feet is incredible, especially if you live outside the city where nature is.

You will probably blister your feet for the first few weeks, but as you adapt to the running, you’re feet will become strong and the skin around it will give you protection against the impact of the ground.

Try running in your regular running shoes, and for the last few minutes take off your shoes and slowly walk or run but don’t get too excited. Your feet still need to strengthen as your tendons and smaller muscles around the ankles are very fragile.

You will probably try to land on your heels but it will be painful and uncomfortable, so naturally you will try to make the strides smaller and you will land more on your toes and forefoot.

Please make the transition slowly and take very small steps before running completely barefoot.

Well what are you waiting for? Start looking for food it's time to go hunt old school! 

Professor From Harvard Talks About Barefoot Running



May 22, 2013 7:09am
Well written article
May 22, 2013 10:50am
Thank you MrRoobibos, glad you enjoyed it!
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