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How Do I Choose the Best Shoes for Barefoot Running?

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  • Written By: Page Coleman
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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When choosing the best shoes for barefoot running, you may need to consider your foot anatomy, the terrain and conditions under which you’ll be running, your budget, and other sports you are involved in. As you begin training, you may need to modify your running style. Barefoot running may offer additional health and running benefits over traditional running shoes.

The shape of your feet and toes will influence the style of shoes for barefoot running that is best for you. Shoes with separate slots for each toe may be the closest to running barefoot because each toe is independent; they allow the toes to grip, and they may enhance stability. They won’t, however, work for every foot. If your toes are long, if you have low arches, or if your foot’s anatomy is otherwise unusual, these shoes may be a poor choice. Many other styles of barefoot running shoes have the traditional toe box, and may often be more suitable for people with varying foot anatomies.

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Consider the terrain and conditions you’ll be running in. If you will be doing primarily trail running, you may want to look for shoes that offer more traction on the sole, and sturdy uppers to protect your feet from branches, leaves and rocks. When most of your running is done on pavement, you may prefer shoes with an open upper, and with soles designed to handle slicker surfaces. You can also look for hybrid shoes if you run on both types of terrain.

Those who run in cold, snowy weather will also want sturdier shoes with traction. Although most barefoot running shoes don’t need socks, cold weather runners may prefer shoes that have room enough to accommodate socks. Ideally, try your shoes out under the running conditions you'll be using them in.

Look for the lightest shoe that you can get that is comfortable, as that tends to make running least tiring. Shoes for barefoot running can be expensive, and you may need to search for shoes that are affordable, yet comfortable. You may also want to consider other sports or activities you participate in. For example, some types of barefoot running shoes are also ideal for water sports.

Most people find they have a heel-strike running style when using traditional running shoes, and they need to move to a mid-sole strike when using barefoot shoes. This new running style uses different muscles, tendons and ligaments, so build up slowly. Start by walking in your new shoes, and gradually add a little running time each week. Shoes for barefoot running usually have low heels, which may improve your body’s alignment.

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