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Minimalist footwear

What benefits do people find from going barefoot. Certain times or workouts? What not to do? Prevent injuries? Long term affects? Favorite brands?

3 Replies

Absolutely go slow and careful with it. Barefoot-style running has a different stride and uses muscles in different ways than running-shoe-running. When that first got trendy, injuries were widespread.

Do due diligence research on best practices, and maybe try some running without shoes on a softish safe surface like a manicured lawn, just to see how you like the feel of it before investing more time and money.

As with anything trendy, look up the actual research behind their supposed benefits if you can. Peer-reviewed science is better than "my cousin has these toe-shoes!" or purely unsubstantiated claims. (e.g. Six-week transition to minimalist shoes improves running economy and time-trial performance. and Longer-term effects of minimalist shoes on running performance, strength and bone density: A 20-week... (Summing up: After 6 weeks, trained runners transitioning into minimalist shoes showed increased performance over conventional shoe users, and after 20 weeks, "did not further improve performance, running economy or alter running biomechanics and lower limb bone mineral density.")) And, of course, keep in mind that your own personal experience may vary widely from the majority of trained runners in some medical study.

One thing not to do is go to zero-drop shoewear without easing in. If you get Luna Sandals, Inov-8s, or other minimalist shoes slowly work up to the milage in them so you don't get an injury using different muscles. 


My girlfriend runs only in Merrel trail gloves, I was always battling injuries in Altras and then in Vasque trail shoes so I decided to mix in a little barefoot. After maybe a year I would say barefoot is not for me, I use it for short flat runs and for speedwork, it seems to have helped my weak ankles and feet a lot. But I will continue to use a more reinforced shoe for longer runs and trails. 


I think as a training tool it is good for us to get out and run free with no shoes, but for me I won't do more than that.