More on the barefoot vs. shoe debate

And with Fair Use in mind, this was my favorite quote,

On this point, he and all of the scientists agree. Humans may have been built to run barefoot, “but we did not evolve to run barefoot with bad form.”

Great article!

I’ve been hiking for a few years now and a few years ago started barefoot hiking, helps with traction and feeling the terrain around you. Over the past 5 months I’ve been working towards barefoot running, but still have running shoes. The next step of course is a lightweight shoe or some 5 fingers.

Remove your shoes for the last mile of your usual run and ease into barefoot running over a period of weeks


I disagree with what this doctor is saying about removing your shoes, but agree with it taking a period of weeks. To run barefoot one needs to start altering their form with shoes on and gradually strengthen all the muscles.

good article.

I’m loving the barefoot-natural-minimal Koolaid.

I don’t know about that. It seems the barefoot-natural-minimal is backed by evidence and the shoe crowd is pouring the Koolaid.

Well whichever way, I’m barefoot for 90% of my workouts, and in Innov8 195’s for all my running.

It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. Heel-striking allows all of the force while running to shoot up your legs through your knees. Striking with the front pad of the foot allows the entire foot to act as a shock absorber. That’s part of the natural running concept.

As for barefoot running, I would recommend easing into it. Break your feet in slowly and cautiously.

Runners, throw out those thick healed shoes. They force you to heel-strike.

Similar. I go barefoot (socks) for most work outs and Nike Free 3.0 for running… though I’m no where near as buff as Brett! I saw New Balance has a nice looking minimal line out as well, I might give those a try.

Nike released a few interesting ones (yeah and, especially the flyknit…)

Nike free gym are pretty neat.

I tried going back to normally cushioned jogging shoes, but after 5km my feet hur like never before.

Ken Bob Saxton is considered the modern father of the Barefoot Running movement. A committed barefoot runner he started a Barefoot running forum in 1997. In 2005 Nike sent him a pair of Nike Free 5.0 to evaluate, here is part of it :-

"So, Nike sent me a pair of Free 5.0 running shoes to evaluate. Thanks Nike! No seriously, I really mean it. Like I really needed running shoes! "

“When I opened the box, after being assaulted by a toxic-smelling synthetic odor (may have been anti-fungal agent – since shoes are often made in countries with very humid climates), the first obvious goof is the design of the sole. It’s way too thick, especially in the back towards the heel.”

“For some reason, Nike felt I needed some support for my arch! So, of course, the arch support was already starting to make my arch sore, since I couldn’t flex naturally. And I haven’t even started walking yet.”

For more check out the link below to the full evaluation:-

I actually find it kinda of funny that Nike was the one to first bring the “barefoot” (more on that term later) shoe concept to market, proposing a more natural running form is better, yet have some of the most cushioned and support shoes out there. Add to that how they’ve been completely eclipsed by other brands entering the category who are more true to the concept (zero-drop, less cushioning, etc.) and have yet to catch up.

The market is also now seeing something interesting where the idea of a more natural running form has gone pretty mainstream (mainstream media picking up the story, your mom has probably heard of it, etc.), and many shoe brands are starting to jump on the trend, calling shoes that clearly don’t support natural running form (over-cushioning, TPU midfoot support, large heel to toe drop,) labeling their shoes with terms like “minimal”, “barefoot”, “natural”, etc.

Even within the industry I’ve seen lots of stories from insiders (retailers, analysts) talking about the confusion over the terms. That’s not even getting into the confusion from consumers (I hear a lot of this when I tell people about the projects in this area I’m working on) about why many shoe companies are telling people running with a more natural form and shoes that encourage that is better, yet also offer conventional shoes with support and cushioning…

SKORA, A new running brand I’ve mentioned here recently that I work with (full disclosure), has come up with a pretty interesting Open Letter by the Founder/CEO addressing all this.

Check it out here-

Some choice quotes-

Firstly, let us consider the marketing terms used to describe shoes designed for this style of running. Some call them “minimal”, “barefoot-style”, “natural”, or “free”. These are terms with which the consumer and mass media identifies, yet the problem is that there are no clear definitions of these terms. These labels exist often only as marketing labels and are applied as marketing departments see fit. There exist “minimal” shoes with rigid TPU shanks, “barefoot” shoes with 10mm heel to toe drop, and “natural” shoes designed to encourage heel strike.

How can we expect the consumer not to be confused when some brands tell them the “best” shoe for them is one with maximum cushioning and support, and yet offer another shoe that proudly proclaims that a “barefoot feel” is “best”? Let’s end the hypocrisy, take a stand and show respect for runners. Healthy running is more than trend or the latest marketing bandwagon to join.


One year later from the NYT

I just read the article quickly, but seems like the Doctor mentioned is missing the point. Good running form is not about efficiency and certainly not speed, it’s about a sustainable, healthy, natural way to run. There’s no point in running if you are going to be sidelined with injury or not be able to walk when you are 50.

Will read again when I have a bit more time.