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Do Barefoot Running Shoes Work?

Stephanie has run seven marathons, including the Boston Marathon and numerous half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. She loves running and exercise!

What the Heck are these Barefoot Running Shoes?

I'm a runner. In fact, I train for marathons year-round and I've seen and worn my share of running shoes.

But I'm just not sure about one of the latest "fads" in footwear. Barefoot running shoes are funny looking, but people who wear them swear they are exceptionally functional and better for their overall fitness level and health. The minimalist shoes are sweeping the running circuit and even creating converts who wear them during cycling, hiking, climbing and aerobic exercise classes.

Barefoot running shoes are extremely flat and most models include five "fingers" in which your toes fit like a glove. They are meant to provide protection for the soles of your feet, while strengthening the muscles in your foot, toes, ankles and calves. Barefoot shoes claim to change your running stride to become more natural, once you remove all the carefully constructed padding, air and high tech soles that athletic shoe manufacturers have worked to develop over the past 30 years.

Not to mention, they're extremely ugly. But do they work?

Barefoot running shoes are ugly, but do they work?

Barefoot running shoes are ugly, but do they work?

About Barefoot Running Shoes

The term "barefoot shoes" is a bit of an oxymoron, admittedly. After all, if you are barefoot, your feet are bare. No shoes. No coverings whatsoever.

Yet, our urban environment doesn't allow the type of free running and walking enjoyed by our ancestors. The thin covering provided by barefoot shoes is for protection of the soles and tops of your feet. But they are designed to be minimalist so that your feet function as they would if you were, in fact, barefoot.

With only a few millimeters of a thin rubber sole separating your tender arches from the pavement, barefoot shoes are an amazingly light 6 ounces in weight. Simply put, barefoot shoes do nothing more than cover your feet. There is no arch support, no cushioning, no "air," nada.

But isn't this a total 180 from the highly engineered running shoes to which we've become accustomed over the past 20-30 years?

Do barefoot shoes really work, or are they just the latest "getting back to nature" fad invented by some hippy green guy?

The answers appear to be yes, yes and yes!

The original "barefoot shoes" are the Vibram FiveFingers, created by Industrial Designer, Robert Fliri and Marco Bramani, the grandson of Vitale Bramani, who invented the first rubber soles for mountaineering boots in 1935. The two men took the idea of barefoot shoes to Tony Post, who was a former collegiate runner. Post is now the president and CEO of Virbram USA.

Although barefoot shoes were originally designed for people enjoying sailing and climbing as an alternative to going completely barefoot, runners quickly picked up the invention as a revolutionary way to enjoy the sport and reduce injury and pain. They've become so hot over the past few years that Time Magazine named them as one of the best inventions in 2007.

The Inventor of the Barefoot Running Shoe

How do Barefoot Running Shoes Work?

Wearing barefoot running shoes are said to return our gait to a natural state. Our leg and foot muscles can actually get stronger so they can support knees, and even reduce back and hip pain. Not only that, but barefoot running shoes can help improve agility, balance and posture.

According to the Vibram FiveFingers website:

The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.

Unlike traditional running shoes, barefoot shoes allow your foot to hit the ground as if you had no shoes on - naturally. Instead of a heelstrike, you'll land on the ball of your foot. This simple motion will completely change the biomechanics of your run.

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For some people the change in gait and biomechanics is too much. Experts often recommend that you wear the shoes for short periods of time to begin with before gradually working your way up. As you do so, you develop new muscles that have probably not been used before during your running. It might take weeks, or months, before you can comfortably run in the barefoot shoes.

Those that have made the transition usually swear by the shoes.

Barefoot is supposed to be superior to running shoes

Barefoot is supposed to be superior to running shoes

The Mechanics of Running in Vibram FiveFinger Barefoot Shoes

Pros and Cons of Barefoot Running Shoes


Allows for proper biomechanics in walking and running

It can take time to adjust and the shoes are not usually recommended for long distance

Fits like a glove - almost like being barefoot

People that need orthotics, those that over-pronoate, with extremely flat feet, or webbed toes should not wear them

Comes in many colors and styles

Still pretty ugly!

Cost ranges from $80-125

Considered to be less durable than running shoes

Likely to find bargains on them on eBay or Craigslist

You may wonder why people are selling their barefoot shoes

Learn How to Run in Barefoot Shoes

The way I like to enjoy barefoot running!

The way I like to enjoy barefoot running!

Do I Wear Barefoot Running Shoes?

As for me, I'm sticking with my running shoes for now. I'm not ready to go barefoot running. In fact, the barefoot shoes are not recommended for long distances like the marathon (for which I am currently training).

The owner of one of the local running stores in my hometown states that, generally speaking, people use barefoot shoes to complement rather than replace their traditional running shoes.

So, maybe one day, I'll try a pair of barefoot shoes for my strength class or even spin. Perhaps I'll wear them on a hike in the mountains nearby.

© 2011 Stephanie Marshall


Mike Hey from UK on April 22, 2020:

Good article. I've read a couple of books where the author swears blind that barefoot running is the way forward but then you see shoes like the alpha flys and they are like platforms! Think for now Im happy sticking with the shoes I know well!

idigwebsites from United States on January 23, 2013:

I love anything that has to do with footwear (as evidenced in all of my hubs! You might check them out someday). I am curious about these barefoot shoes. I think they look good and comfortable even if you're in a rigorous running exercise, which I'd sometimes do.

I'd love to try those Vibram Fivefingers before the fad (if it really is) subsides. Hehehehe.

Up, useful, interesting and shared (and a following). :)

kjrzeek1 from New Jersey, USA on August 05, 2012:

Great hub. I know people who have bought these shoes and everyone has a different opinion. I think I am going to get a pari for my crossfit workouts, but I still need a great running sneaker. Voted up and useful.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 15, 2012:

Thanks Chloe - I am looking forward to barefoot running on the beach this summer! Best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 15, 2012:

Hi Jeffery - I would like to try the New Balance Minimalist shoes, too. Have you read "Born to Run"? Great book about running, shoes, barefoot, etc. Cheers, Steph

Jeffrey Sherknus from Venice, Florida on June 15, 2012:

Actually, I have flat feet and the shoes that feel comfortable to me are shoes that really don't have any sort of arch support. I have a pair of slip-on teva shoes that are very minimal and work really well. I am a fan of easy and comfortable. Slip-on shoes are very easy. The next pair of shoes I would like to tray are the New Balance Minimalist shoes.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 20, 2012:

Way to go rmcleve! All of that since January? You are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your positive experience with barefoot shoes. Keep up the great work. Best, Steph

rmcleve on April 20, 2012:

Honestly, there are many styles that do not look so silly. I have the women's pace glove by Merrell and absolutely love these shoes. They've changed everything about the way I move in the world.

Warning: They are extremely addicting! I want to buy more and more styles so I can save the pace gloves for running and nothing more.

Sure, it took some time to get my legs adjusted to the new style, but that was minimal. I already wear flats and shoes with little padding, so my legs were prepared for what was coming.

This is all coming from someone who has dropped 20 pounds, from 270 to 250, since January. I'm a heavy person and can do quite a bit of wear and tear on a short run. I can run every day with my barefoot shoes.

Oh, and we paid $60, brand new, on a military base.

bipolar mind from uk on April 18, 2012:

Thanks for creating such an informative hub! Extremely well exeuted and useful too. Voted up

stessily on February 24, 2012:

Steph, Carefully researched and well presented.

Back in the Midwest, I used to cross paths with a woman who went barefoot year-round, even in the height of winter, and winters were brutal! She said that her feet were never cold because her circulation is so great from the daily exercise of walking everywhere. She even used to walk onto frozen expanses of area lakes!

I do love to walk, run, or cycle barefoot from time to time; the feeling of freedom is incomparable, especially in contrast to the weighty feeling which inheres in most running shoes.

Another great informational hub for exercise enthusiasts as well as for armchair exercisers who are thinking about revitalizing their mobility.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 07, 2012:

LOL - that's my reaction too, jennifer! I would rather wear some of the other minimalist shoes that have a toe box, rather than individual toes. Cheers, Steph

jenniferg78 from Philadelphia, PA on February 07, 2012:

Very good research but the fact of the matter remains- they are not pretty! I can't see them replacing any other footwear but, as a few people mentioned here, serious runners and sports fans may use them.

kjrzeek1 from New Jersey, USA on January 30, 2012:

Wow, thanks for the info. I saw a guy wearing a pair of these at the mall with his tight shirt....Priceless....i am currently doing distance runs too so I am not ready to try them.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 30, 2011:

Kim, that would be kind of funny to see a person wearing the barefoot shoes in a small town. I should add that there are now "barefoot shoes" with a toe box, instead of individual toes that look a bit more traditional. You might like those! Best, Steph

Kim Cantrell from Deep In The Pages of a Book on November 30, 2011:

I'm in a rural town in Tennessee and just saw a woman wearing a pair of these the other day. I must say, she attracted quite a bit of attention. So I came looking for more info.

Because they, different looking, I don't know that I'm completely sold but the idea of less joint pain is definitely appealing.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 30, 2011:

Hi princess,

I do have a number of friends with barefoot shoes or other low-profile shoes. It takes a while to build up the muscles in your feet to avoid injury. If you get them, be sure to wear them for short periods of time to start, while you adjust to them. Best, Steph

princesswithapen on November 30, 2011:


After watching the slow motion YouTube video, it seems that barefoot shoes may lay increased street on your legs. It'd be tough to imagine wearing barefoot shoes on a daily run after being accustomed to heavily padded and well cushioned runners. Utility value does seem low for right now but I might end up ordering a pair for myself anyways!


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 25, 2011:

And even around town... Silly cell phone for commenting!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 25, 2011:

Hi Dorsi, I see people wear these barefoot shoes at strength classaeven around town. I think they are used for more than running!

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 25, 2011:

Interesting hub. I have a seen a few of these and did not know what they were for! I wonder if they are recommended for just everyday use too? I wear my crocs everyday and they are kind of ugly but my feet LOVE them.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 21, 2011:

Hi Posh - yes, I am a runner, so was curious about the barefoot shoes. My research led to this article. I just bought myself another pair of "regular" running shoes. I do too much trail running - and frankly, I'd be afraid of stepping on glass or a nail while running on concrete if I wore the five fingered shoes...

Steve Mitchell from Cambridgeshire on September 21, 2011:

Steph, they don't look like they give much protection to the foot like normal running shoes would. Nice hub with loads of facts and props.Vote awesome ( Must have taken ages to put together).

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 29, 2011:

Thanks Maddot - sounds like barefoot shoes are exactly the solution for you! Hope they work out great, Steph

maddot from Northern NSW, Australia on August 29, 2011:

What a brilliant Hub. I was a runner in my youth and always ran barefoot. I now run at my gym in shoes and have noticed that my style is very different. I have a natural tendency to run on the side of my foot. I tend to throw my foot out and I think, after reading your hub, this is my style from my youth running barefooted. I knew there was something wrong running in shoes. I am going to get some barefoot shoes..I think this is great! thanks!

mattpont on August 05, 2011:

I've thought about trying these out, but I think they need a lot of bedding in time.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on July 19, 2011:

Thanks writerlee - more and more people are turning to barefoot shoes/vibram shoes to help strengthen muscles and return to natural running form!

writerlee on July 19, 2011:

The clunky running shoes that we all wear now really limit the strengthening of muscles and tendons in our feet. In that way, I think the vibrams are good in that they help work out those underused parts of our feet!

Thanks for the article, you put a lot of effort into it! Great job.

dprice680 on June 08, 2011:

I believe that the vibrams are most definitely a functional "shoe" to wear. Although i dont use them I seen many people use them. Ive even seen people run barefoot! I suppose though this only works for some people because the only time i ran barefoot i got hurt!!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 07, 2011:

Thanks everyone! Glad to hear that so many people love the barefoot shoes. I am seeing them more and more in exercise classes and at the beach. Quite versatile shoes! Best, Steph

suejanet on June 07, 2011:

Very interesting information.

Carl on June 06, 2011:

Excellent hub. Very insightful, and informative.

MacBradaigh88 from Buffalo, New York on June 06, 2011:

I bought a pair of the KSO version of these about three months ago. The majority of my work day I am stuck at a desk in front of a computer. I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, am an avid hiker/backpacker and I like climbing. I hurt my back deadlifting about a year ago and was layed up for about as long. Even once I started to feel better, I still had a nagging ache in my back after a hard practice or hike. After wearing these for the past three months now my back pain is gone, my legs feel stronger and in jiu jitsu I feel I have better balance. I just did a three day backpacking trip with them and had no problems depsite the distance and unlevel ground. I am a believer

rorshak sobchak on June 05, 2011:

Nice Hub. I actually do like the looks of these shoes. Today I was wearing my flops at the beach and they were rubbing my feet like sandpaper when I got sand in them. I also dislike when seaweed touches my feet it is a very unpleasant feeling. Thank you.

RIRed from Pawtucket City. on May 25, 2011:

I think that these five finger shoes are much too overpriced. With that being said, I have been starting to do the barefoot running, and I can run further, with less pain than when I was running with regular sneakers. Albeit, I'm not in the best of shape, but I was getting pains in the wrong places when I went out to run. Not a bit of it when I went barefoot, aside from very tender burning feet after. I've recently compromised a little, and bought a cheap pair of water shoes that were about $7.00, and that has helped my feet from blistering. Now the only obstacle is just building up my endurance, to make up for the lack of shape that I am in. Already though, running has been much more of a joy, then from what ever I was doing in the past.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 09, 2011:

Thank you RTalloni - please feel free to link away! I'll go check out your shoe story hub, as well - Best, Steph

RTalloni on May 09, 2011:

Have been wondering about these barefoot shoes...thanks!

If you have no objection I would like to link this hub to my shoe story hub.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 26, 2011:

That is fascinating about your arches changing after wearing the barefoot shoes/Vibrams. I'm suffering some foot pain after the marathon last week and wondering whether some strengthening is in order. I may be checking out these shoes! Thanks for the comment, Steph

I am DB Cooper from Whereabouts unknown at this time on April 26, 2011:

I love my Vibram KSO's, but did take some time to get used to them. I think there are some muscles in my feet that had been asleep for 20 years before I started wearing Vibrams for running. Now my arches seem higher and I'm pretty sure that's making my foot shorter, as I can fit into shoes a size smaller than I used to.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 25, 2011:

Maritta - at my strength/core class, a few people are wearing them too. In fact, I saw one runner at the Boston Marathon last week sporting a pair. I'm still thinking that minimalist running shoes would be a better bet for me. Let me know if the barefoot shoes work for you! Steph

MarittaC from Utah, USA on April 25, 2011:

Thanks for the great hub steph! I've been writing about CrossFit, any my instructor wears these, so I've been curious for about a month now. Everyone I know who wears them loves them. Maybe I'll cave and try a pair.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 07, 2011:

Hi SweetiePie, I agree, and I understand that the barefoot shoe is not recommended for longer distances. Since I'm a marathon runner, I have thought about going with a minimalist shoe instead. Sounds like your lightweight walking shoes do the trick. Happy exercising - Steph

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on April 07, 2011:

I am not a runner, but if I were I would want to wear the more traditional padded running shoes. However, since I walk up to six miles a day I do prefer a light weight canvas shoe over a clunky walking shoe. I just want a bit more padding than the barefoot shoe has to offer.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 03, 2011:

That is so cool Danette! I don't know about the barefoot shoes for my own running (personally) but my marathon coach is a big supporter of the minimalist running shoes. I've got to do some more research and maybe write another hub! :)

Danette Watt from Illinois on April 03, 2011:

I just covered a half-marathon sponsored by the newspaper I freelance for and a friend, who is a runner, wore these for the race. She said she loved them. I'm not a runner but plan to try a couple 5ks this year.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on March 29, 2011:

Thanks Spirit Whisperer - minimalist and barefoot shoes are really the rage these days. We were debating the merits again today at one of my workout classes. Happy running - Best, Steph

Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on March 29, 2011:

I like running but like you I prefer to have some cushioning as I pound out that mileage on hard concrete. A very well written and highly informative hub. Thank you.

Emma from Houston TX on March 11, 2011:

Nice info and thanks for sharing.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 20, 2011:

Hi Debra - that is so cool! I ran a 1/2 marathon today and saw a few people wearing the Nike Frees. I think I want to look into them. Congrats on your accomplishment! Best, Steph

Debra Owen on February 20, 2011:

Hi Steph. I trained for and ran the NYC Marathon in Nike Frees. A little more cushioning than the Five Fingers. I felt great and had a great run!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 17, 2011:

Hi Terri, I have had a similar experience. Most people that I know that have the barefoot shoes absolutely love them. Not sure if they're for me, but something to keep in mind. Best, Steph

Terri Paajanen on February 17, 2011:

Great hub with great info. A friend of mine has a pair of these and he loves them. Not sure about trying them for myself just yet :)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 10, 2011:

Thanks Winsome! I'm not sure I'm sold on barefoot shoes, but a few of my good running friends have tried them and loved them. But.... they don't do every run in them. Long runs? Barefoot? No thank you!

Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on February 10, 2011:

Very well written Steph, thank you for the review, I am going to give them a try as I love to run--I do agree that using barefoot shoes on a long distance run would be an oxy-marathon. =:)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 07, 2011:

Hi BKCreative - you know, I have a pair of those negative heel sandals, as well. I do feel like they work my feet muscles and now that you tell me how much they've helped you, I'm going to dig them out again! Thanks so much for the great comment. Best to you, Steph

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on February 07, 2011:

You have covered this so well and it makes so much sense because we do tend to come down on our heels and do so much damage to our skeletal system.

I have worn Korean negative heel shoes that I bought in Seoul and they help me come down on the ball of my feet which not only has built muscles on the sides of my legs (yay!) - but allows me to walk on ice (like Korean people) something Americans cannot do without falling.

I even like the way these look! So clever - we were meant to go barefoot when you think about it.

Rated way up! Yay!

amybradley77 on February 04, 2011:

Wow, what a good page and interesting new technology in footwear. I don't think I will be using them at all. I have a feeling that toes covered completely is just less likely to be broken. That's just my thinking though who know's. Voted up and useful. A.B.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 01, 2011:

Hi Money Glitch, right - when all the top elite athletes start endorsing them, then maybe! Then again, they do get big endorsements.... so who knows. ;-) Thanks for the comment!

Money Glitch from Texas on February 01, 2011:

Very interesting article Steph! While reading the hub, I kept thinking about the additional places of friction that could occur with each toe being covered (more blisters). I was glad to see listed as one of the pros as well as cons, being the fact "that it fits like a glove."

Definitely agree with you, don't think this one is for me. Of course, we will know that it is a winner if all the athletes starts wearing them.:) Thx for sharing an informative story. Rating up!:)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 31, 2011:

Hi Lymond,

On a long run this weekend, I noticed one pair of barefoot shoes that were VERY worn! The owner said he loved them. But, I share your concern about broken glass and other hazards on the road. Best, Steph

Lymond from UK on January 31, 2011:

Looks awesome, I'm not sure about running out and about a city though, one broken bottle....

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 28, 2011:

Thanks for sharing your experience, Marathon! I think I would take a similar approach - using the barefoot shoes only for workouts less than 1 hour. I appreciate the comment! Best, Steph

Marathon Junky from Washougal, WA on January 28, 2011:

I run SHORT distances (7 miles or less) only in these shoes. They are not good for distance running. However, they do help build muscle in your feet and legs. In essence, they are the perfect type of shoes for speed work.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 26, 2011:

Thank you so much Prasetio! Keep on jogging and staying in shape. Best, Steph

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 26, 2011:

I liked jogging and I choose the best shoes for my feet. Thanks for share about this. I always give attention related with health and sport. And I find this form your hub. Excellent and very well written. I love your presentation. All the video are amazing. Good work, Steph. I give my vote to you. Take care!


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 25, 2011:

Hi Alexander - I agree with your observations! I love Tevas and to me they seem like a good "compromise" shoe (perhaps not for running though). I do think its the individual toe coverings that make the barefoot shoes so unattractive....

Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on January 25, 2011:

Seems like a great idea to me, I prefer less shoe and more natural anyway - like no ties, no pants, er, you know what I mean. I can't wait to buy another set of Tivas (not as durable as people claim by the way) because I hate constricting my feet.

Personally, I can do without the barefoot shoe, but I have heard about people who go barefoot everywhere, and they have built up such callouses that it doesn't bother them.

They think it's healthy and actually say that it is better to step on a rusty nail barefoot because you react faster and with a shoe, you put your full weight down thereby forcing the nail in deeper.

I would try them, but the individual toe coverings are a little much.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 24, 2011:

Hi erthfrend, I guess some people can endure the pavement pounding better with the natural movement of the foot and muscles, which over time causes less pain. Fascinating, huh? Cheers, Steph

erthfrend from Florida on January 24, 2011:

I recently heard about these so I was excited to see you write a hub about them so I could learn more about them. Great hub, very informative! They look really comfortable but I think that if you are running on a hard surface, you'd probably do damage to your joints and the balls and heels of your feet! I bet they would feel good though if you were running on a softer surface like dirt. Interesting concept for sure! What will they come up with next?!

dustin on January 24, 2011:

Now you can be a confident expert on Barefoot Shoes. OK, maybe not an expert. But you should have something to bring to the table next time you join a discussion on Barefoot Shoes.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

LOL Audrey! You never know here in Central OR - formal wear is certainly not what you'd see in LA or NYC!

Yes, I'm almost positive that REI carries them. Good luck :)

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on January 23, 2011:

I probably wouldn't wear them with an evening dress (though in my case I just might to get a laugh)....but interesting! I will have to check out a pair the next time I'm out at REI - I assume they must carry them or someone here in the Central Oregon mecca must!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Great point Nell! Gosh, I didn't think of the "one size fits all" toes approach. You might have trouble with the barefoot shoes! I'm sure they are very comfortable though. I can imagine wearing them on a rocky beach. Cheers!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Hi Frieda - I do hope that people continue to use the shoes if they are working for them. Especially if barefoot shoes help with back, knee or other joint problems. Thanks for the comment - best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

MPG Narratives - excellent points! If they work, then use them, regardless of looks. Glad to hear your sister-in-law loves them!

Nell Rose from England on January 23, 2011:

Hi, fascinating! I love the toes, but I am not sure I could wear them, I have funny shaped feet! lol they are a bit like a ballet dancers, all ball, and tiny toes! but they do look comfortable, not sure about running in them though, cheers nell

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on January 23, 2011:

Well, I really hope it's not a fad and that these become more popular. I saw a video about this sometime last year (about the benefits of running barefoot). I think it would solve a lot of health problems. Getting schools to accept these as good shoes for running track and whatnot, now that's another story. Great topic! Thumbs up, Steph.

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on January 23, 2011:

Hi steph, I'm one who can't get past the look of these shoes too. I have a sister-in-law who wears them and loves them but she too agrees they are ugly. Still, if you enjoy running and keeping fit, who cares what you wear??

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

LOL Judy! I am right there with you, 100%. :)

Judy HBerg on January 23, 2011:

Great hub! As a runner I too have seen others wearing these and have decided that it must be working for them. I am having a hard time getting past the looks of these shoes as they remind me of those "toe socks" that were popular a few years back-with one addition- a strap from a Mary Jane type shoe. Really?! :)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Sounds like barefoot running shoes would be perfect for you tmbridgeland! Best to you, Steph

tmbridgeland from Small Town, Illinois on January 23, 2011:

I grew up running on my toes, but changed to heel running in high school. It wasn't a positive switch, and by college had damaged my knees pretty badly. Switching back to toe running was a big help. I would love to try these shes.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Thanks Pamela - interesting to hear their different approaches. Did it take long for them to adjust to the barefoot shoes? Curious. And great point about the moccasins!

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on January 23, 2011:

Both of my sons and husband are runners. One son loves them and doesn't wear anything else the other one wears them on dirt tracks but not cement.

I don't run but walk and prefer moccasins. Not much difference.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

thanks dallas!

Perfectperception - excellent point. Seems like every piece of medical advice gets re-evaulated and then we're told we should be doing something different!

Hi mega1 - not a sales pitch at all. Just decided to research the shoes since I am a runner and I've seen so many people wearing them. I guess if you are into barefoot running, I'd rather have something on my feet than nothing at all... but who knows. I've got info about how much they cost: retail $80-120. Cheaper on eBay for you to try them out and see if they scare the neighbor's dogs. ;-)

mega1 on January 23, 2011:

Nice sales pitch, but if you're not gonna try them, neither am I. Plus, how much do these little creepy things cost? expensive? How would I look in em? would I scare the neighbor's dogs? If I find them in a store near me, will I be laughing? crying? I think I'll be afraid to be seen in them. but maybe not! Maybe someone will pay me to wear a pair! They look like they'd be hell on pavement, also.

perfectperception from USA on January 23, 2011:

They are very funny looking. Not everything is for everybody but the best way to find out if they will work for you is to try them. After all, we went from plain old tennis shoes to naming a shoe for each sport and they all go through transitions for better this and more of that.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on January 23, 2011:

"Bare footin..." Let us know as you progress...

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Hi Jamie - I'm with you there. I was thinking it would be cool to wear the barefoot shoes climbing rocks or something. Free, but better with some coverage on the soles. Cheers, Steph

Jamie Brock from Texas on January 23, 2011:

wow.. I hadn't even heard of these.. I love going barefoot but I'm not sure how these would feel between my toes...worth a try I guess. Great informative hub, thank you!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Hi Eiddwen,

With back problems, a more natural gait could be really helpful. I noticed someone wearing black barefoot shoes the other day with long black yoga pants. They weren't as unattractive as some of the other styles. Just my opinion! Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Hey Becky - I have really been considering the minimalist running shoes like some of the new styles offered by Nike. I'd love to hear about your experience with them! If they help your knees, that would be great! Talk to you soon, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2011:

Hi Mr. Tindle - I have been seeing more and more people either going with the barefoot shoes or completely barefoot in local running races. Personally, I like the comfort that my running shoes offer, but am I setting myself up for issues down the road (so to speak)? We will see. I may eventually become a convert.

Eiddwen from Wales on January 23, 2011:

I have problems with my back due to two ops and I am wondering if these would be any good. Mind you I don't really like the look of them.

Thanks for sharing this hub, well written and plenty of info.

Becky Tom on January 22, 2011:

I've been having trouble with my knees (one more than the other) for a couple of years, Steph, and I just bought a pair of Nike Frees to experiment with a more barefoot-like running shoe. If my knees start to improve, I'd consider switching to the Vibram shoes. I'll let you know!

Mr Tindle on January 22, 2011:


I don't know, I havn't gone barefoot since I was a kid. I don't know if I would really like it anymore. I did recently hear a second hand story about someone seeing a guy running in the middle of winter..... and strangly enough, he was completely barefoot! Now that I read this, I think maybe its some kind of fad, or something, ... Who knew! Doubt I would ever try it..... but who knows..

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 22, 2011:

Hi everyone - thanks for the comments. Somewhat ironically, I was out for a 14-mile training run for my next marathon (wearing regular running shoes!) I decided to write about these when I saw a woman actually running barefoot during the Portland Marathon last fall. All 26.2 miles with nothing on her feet! Wow. That, plus I see people here wearing them all the time....

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on January 22, 2011:

I have a problem with shoes especially my right foot.. I don't know if these would work or not, but I might take a look. However they do look ugly to me.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on January 22, 2011:

I dunno. I don't run. Years and years ago, when I was younger and still able to run, a chiropractor I had at the time told me running and jogging are the single worst things you can do to your spine, as the compression and pounding transmits up your spinal column to the tune of a couple of hundred pounds per square inch!

Even though I'm not a physicist--I did learn a physics principle while in a bowling league. That is this: an object in motion gains 6 times its weight. So, your 10-pound bowling ball hits the pins with an effective force of a 60 pound object!

Ergo, multiply your weight by 6 to find out how much force is transmitted up your spine. (It might be minimized some if running on a flexible surface with 'give' like dry beach sand or grass.)

gksquire9 from America on January 22, 2011:

Hi, Steph. So, good Hub. Coincidentally, I just purchased a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers yesterday. This comes after outwardly making fun of them, and those who wear them, for the last year. Why the "flip-flop?" I'm 33, and have been doing a lot more running, soccer, and basketball playing. The ole shock absorbers (knees) and lower back don't feel as good as they used to. I know several guys who are bigger than me and have had issues with their knees and backs and swear by them. I figured it was time to give them a try. However, and I caution here, with any new technology, one should "tread lightly" when breaking new ground. I did a mile on the tread mill yesterday and will only do 1-2 miles a few days a week with them until I am comfortable. It does feel different, as expected, but until my feet are more acclimated I will only be doing my longer runs with trainers.

Rhonda Musch from The Emerald Coast on January 22, 2011:

You have a great article here. I would like them. If I am home I never wear shoes. I only don't wear shoes at home. Every other place I am in shoes are flip flops mostly. I live in Florida, we live in flip flops here. I have seen these shoes around. I think there awesome. Voted up.

Sweet wishes Rhonda

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