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Customer Discussions > Running forum

Barefoot Running

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Showing 1-25 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 19, 2009 9:20:22 AM PDT
Can Running Barefoot Solve Your Foot, Ankle and Knee Problems? A podiatrist sets aside years of "medical" training and takes a serious look at how running barefoot could alleviate your foot, ankle and knee ailments. Read:

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2009 6:47:53 PM PDT
WS says:
I would strongly recommend reading the book 'Born to Run' by Christopher McDougall. He specifically addresses your question. Even though the book is no magic cure for potential problems you may have during running, it does explain how we were born to run and that many of the injuries are caused by our running shoes, even (or especially) the expensive ones. Don't thrown away your shoes yet, but maybe this book can help you in the right direction. Besides being very informational, it is also a great and funny book to read.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2009 3:27:56 AM PDT
Thanks for your note. I just started reading it and so far it seems pretty conversational - nothing hard and factual yet. I would love to find some more good scientific reports on barefoot running. Do you have any experience running barefoot?

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 12:37:40 PM PDT
It is interesting that I ran across this today...just last night I ran barefoot on the football field with two of the XC runners I coach in an interval workout. I recommend the book More Fire and a website to look at This is an area I am really looking into in the past year. Andrew Gideon, Thompson Falls, MT

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2009 4:04:34 PM PDT
I will check out the book, More Fire, thanks!

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 5:37:24 PM PDT
Snappy says:
There seem to be two diff schools of barefoot running. One is the school that anyone can do: running barefoot on grass or other soft surface to strengthen your feet. The other school seems more challenging and has you changing your whole running technique so that you could run on any surface. I tried it for weeks and I just couldn't get it done. I ended up more injured than helped. I completely blame myself but just as a word of caution: know what you are doing, have patience and realize it is a very drastic change to form to do it right. You cannot just hit the road barefoot and run like your feet are shod. Technique, technique, technique!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2009 2:40:48 AM PDT
What kind of injuries occured with the barefoot running? And how do you feel the technique should've been different?

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 4:35:22 AM PDT
Snappy says:
I never learned to "lift my feet right as they touch the ground" as suggestd by Running and I don't really understand what that means. My injuries are what you'd expect from running without shoes (given a lack of technique, I guess): forefoot pain from increased impact, shin splints (which I haven't had in ten years) and of course blisters that scare people who see them. I tried stepping more lightly and hitting midfoot but there is apparently a lot more to it than that.

Posted on Sep 18, 2010 10:50:25 PM PDT
D. Duarte says:
this is almost the same as my system. it's great for running into your later years.

Posted on Oct 9, 2010 7:55:13 AM PDT
I've transitioned to barefoot running (well, with Vibram five fingers) over the last few months and absolutely love it. I can't go back.

I was having a lot of knee pain but once I changed, my knees have been fine. As far as form goes, I've had to focus on landing softly on the ball of my foot, not the heel.

It's taken a while to work up to distance in my Vibrams, and I paid dearly in a race for trying to rush the transition. I did have some tendinitis in my feet at first, but that's gone away. I've also found that Bodyglide helps a lot to prevent blisters - I cover my toes with it (top, bottom and sides) and have no problems.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2010 10:20:33 AM PDT
D. Duarte says:

I too have transformed my running to the barefoot style, although I don't see the value of putting my toes into the five finger system. Right now I run barefoot on my treadmill and when I've run outside I've used $9 surf shoes that I got from the local Big 5 Sporting Goods.

I do like the old track shoes that were on the market before 1973 when Nike revolutionized track shoes by putting giant pillows of foam beneath our heels causing/encouraging most Americans to begin running wrong.

I am in the process of designing a running shoe that will facilitate the principals of barefoot running; minimalist, comfortable, while giving our feet the protection they need from the elements.

PS--I too have eliminated knee pain from running and have been running without knee supports for the first time in many years.

Posted on Nov 10, 2010 1:01:37 PM PST
did anyone see that new episode of mantracker in hawaii? well that guy in there was running over rocks, lava rocks I believe, without flinching. wow. I tried to go barefoot once while out walking(my shoes were hurting my feet) and I kept stepping on acorns ouch!

I looked up those barefoot shoes and they are just to expensive and the reviews were mixed on them.

what are surf shoes by the way and are they cushy enough to protect your feet from teh acorns and rocks? but still give your feet natural movement and flex?


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2010 2:59:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2010 3:01:10 PM PST
D. Duarte says:

Surf shoes are shoes some surfers wear to surf. So yes, they are light and flexible yet provide minimalist protection for the soles of your feet; keeps them from getting dirty and helps you stay hygienic. Any sports store that sells shoes most likely will have surf shoes too, I bought mine at Big 5 Sporting Goods for $9.

Please do not spend a fortune on over-priced barefoot running shoes! Totally unnecessary. And I see absolutely no advantage whatsoever in the five-fingers style of shoe. If someone can tell me of an advantage, I'd love to hear about it.

As far as running barefoot on rocks goes. I remember as a child running around barefoot during the summer. The first week is always difficult because all of the rocks and pebbles are painful, but after a few days of getting accustomed to it, you'll be doing it like you did it your whole life.

Posted on Nov 28, 2010 6:19:17 AM PST
Ollie says:
I am new to barefoot/minimalist running and initially suffered from blisters and other injuries (foot, ITB) due to improper training. I found the hardest part was to put into practice what I had read or seen online. One of the better videos was on vimeo (Learn to Run Barefoot with Lee Saxby and Terra Plana). My initial transition from sneakers to barefoot was not very successful so I switched to VFF. Unfortunately I was able to run much further and ended up injuring my IT Band and foot (too much, too soon). I am now trying to approach barefoot running as a tool to help me learn how to run injury free, i.e. my goal is not to run barefoot but to run injury free.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2010 12:31:07 PM PST
I have enjoyed barefoot running and Vibrams five fingers. However, I started slow with several 100 pickups on the football field and built up to a longest run of 7 miles. However, if I take time off from barefoot or Vibrams, I need to start all over - my calves really feel it if I over do it. I am sold on both methods as being good for training.

Posted on Nov 30, 2010 10:42:36 PM PST
cali franny says:
everyone is different when it comes to barefoot running. my best friend was able to run in the vibram five fingers with virtually no pain right off the bat. her longest run in them was 7 miles. me, on the other hand, had pain on my calves/achiles with only a three mile run. for those of you, like me, who haven't been gifted with the barefoot runner's genes, try minimalist shoes and progress from there. your body will naturally adapt to a forefoot/midfoot strike and you will see some of your nagging pains go away. i've been able to heal from plantar fasciitis this last year. i went from wearing the cushioned nike vomero to the nike free 3.0. less cushion, less support, less pain.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2011 7:24:59 PM PST
D. Duarte says:
The only problem I've had so far with barefoot running, is that your calf muscles do get a workout and can be strained/pulled if you over-do it.

I made the mistake of "pushing through" the pain in my calves when I first felt it, and it just meant more time on the sidelines recovering.

So, now when I feel muscle pain in the calves, I just see that as a signal to "give it a rest" for a while and test the waters again later.

Less of a workout for your upper legs, quads, and more of a workout for your calves.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2011 8:32:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2011 8:34:29 AM PST
Hi D. Duarte,

You know, I used to think I had some strong calf muscles before I started barefoot running. That was quite a few years ago, but I still remember the pain! It is a good idea to take some rest and when you begin again, just cut back your barefoot adventures by a few minutes to see if that helps. Doing warm ups and really working the calf muscles as you progress will help a lot. Not to tout my stuff, but I am a professional coach and have just co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running due out soon by Penguin. This book is 300+ pages of goodness and talks a lot about the initial pains and pangs and how to work through them. Plus, it gives solid transition plans. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to visit us at and send us a line! Best, Thomas Hollowell

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2011 1:37:09 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2011 1:38:24 AM PST
D. Duarte says:
Hi T.D.,

Thank you for your reply. I did just today, took your advice and cut back on the time I spent on the treadmill, and am easing back into my routine.

I am in the process of producing a shoe for barefoot running, and I hope that you'll be open to given me your expert opinion in it when it comes out?

I stumbled upon barefoot running about a year ago, on my own, and began running on my treadmill that way before I saw a news story on it last year. Then later, on HBO's "Inside Sports," I saw yet another major story on it.

So, I'm a believer, not because I learned from anyone else, but because I came upon it myself, after injuring my knees and hips through regular jogging.

I'm not a fan of the Vibram 5-finger shoe, which motivated me to design my own. I love running on a treadmill barefoot, but I have designed, what I believe to be the "perfect" barefoot running shoe; and I've tried them all (well, all that I could find) before I embarked on my own design.

While I'm completely underwelmed with the Vibram shoe, I think the Nike Free is not too bad, but my design is different enough to really stand apart from these...or I wouldn't bother.

It should be out in a few months, and I'll be looking to giving out as many samples as I can to barefoot runners for their feedback.

Oh, one question, TD, and please don't take this the wrong way but...I see that on the cover of your book, the runner is both barefoot and running on sand, but why do you have him heel-striking? My partner in producing my shoe came on board from being a barefoot runner on beach sand, and he told me that running on his toes was the only way to go on the sand.

I personally, have never really run on sand.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2011 2:26:01 PM PST
Hi D.D.,

Thanks for your message and providing some background on what you have been doing. It sounds like you are on the right track. It is great you discovered it as an alternative on your own. That is how I started and became more enthralled the more I did it. I just wanted to tell others about it!

As far as barefoot running shoes, I do like the Vibram because the way the feet can move and splay naturally, but I do understand its drawbacks. The Nike Free is a decent shoe as well. They are on the right track, but the heel and often narrowness of their shoes makes it less of a pick for me. I give them a fair rating in the book. I do like Soft Star Shoes, which are awesome. You can look them up. They make a vented RunAmoc that is simple and innovative.

I would love to get in on testing your shoe. We are adding a whole new review section to our Website for minimalist shoes and I could definitely give you some feedback on those. I am sure they'll be great. That is how innovation and great designs start out. Exciting!

No offense taken : ) Actually, I helped to research the cover photograph for the book and know what you mean. He is barefoot and on a harder surface, next to the sand, but it is still a natural surface. It looks like the runner is heel striking, but on closer examination, it is actually the outer part of his foot that is hitting the ground; the heel appears to be coming down first because of the angle. With a forefoot landing, there are actually three 'trip-pod' points that come in contact with the ground. This is the first-the outer part of the foot. So, technically, he has decent form with an OK landing, although it doesn't look the best. I am glad his knees are bent and his posture is great. So, I told the publisher that this was about as good as it gets. I tried doing my own cover photo, but it never worked out! In sand, though, the best way to actually run through thicker stuff is a bit more on your toes, but if if it is not too thick and more firm (such as closer to the water), you can land with the full forefoot allowing the foot to come into come onto the ground completely with each step. It works the arch nicely and the pads also get a nice workout.

Thanks for the great conversation and good luck with the shoes. Please do contact me at our barefoot running site (above) and we'd be happy to offer you our feedback on anything you produce.

Thanks! Thomas

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2011 3:12:14 PM PDT
Ida Vincent says:
Nike Free run + are the best.\

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 2:11:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2011 2:11:47 PM PST
I thought this was a good article on running technique and running barefoot - by the author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage). It includes a video of a training exercise called "100-Up" that helps develop barefoot running technique.

I haven't tried it yet - but I plan to when I return home this evening.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 3:12:54 PM PST
D. Duarte says:
Suzanna Kruger,

What "good article" are you referring to? Sounds interesting, I'd like to see it too :-)


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 6:36:14 PM PST
Oh! I forgot the link, I see. Here it is:

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2011 2:44:48 AM PST
D. Duarte says:
great article! Thanks for sharing that.
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Discussion in:  Running forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  33
Initial post:  Jul 19, 2009
Latest post:  Jan 27, 2013

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