ninimalist footwear and bare feet (KEn Bob's)

Barefoot Shoes???

ninimalist footwear and bare feet (KEn Bob's)

ninimalist footwear and bare feet (KEn Bob's)


Though once again yesterday I found it necessary to explain to someone that by the term “Running Barefoot” I mean that I run literally “bare” foot, not in those “silly” shoes, I’m not as concerned about the oxymoron, as I am that it is a marketing deception.


My concern is that people are seeing barefoot/minimalist shoes/footwear as a substitute for actually letting their bare soles teach them how to run more gently and safely. They are being told that by running in “barefoot shoes” they get all the benefits of barefoot running, except they also get protection.

On the other hand, when Nike came up with the marketing slogan, “Run Barefoot” for their Nike Free shoes, we did see a boost in people actually running barefoot, thanks to their advertising dollar…

Still there remain many millions who tried running “barefoot” in the shoes, and even more since the rise in popularity of minimalist shoes since “Born to Run” who are bypassing the whole literal “bare” foot thing and believing that they can run “barefoot” in “barefoot shoes” and then after injuring themselves, rejecting the whole idea and spreading the word that “barefoot” running doesn’t work … all the while they have never even tried barefoot running (except in the marketing perception of the term).

So while I agree, the world is going to continue using the term, since it’s so wildly advertised. Just like they use the term “Wheat” bread to refer to a “whole grain” bread (even though white bread is also wheat bread, and most breads marketed as “wheat” contain little if any whole grain – though they might have a bit of brown coloring from honey, brown sugar, molasses, or artificial coloring).

And just as I continue to try to re-educate bread eaters why the brown bread they’re eating isn’t healthy (not because it is made from grains, but because it is made from refined grains – the nutrition is missing), I will remain unconfused by the mass hysteria and the big marketing machines and will continue to explain the differences, not in hopes that the term “Barefoot Shoes” goes away, but in hopes that people will begin to realize they are being manipulated by corporate greed, and by buying into the “Barefoot Shoes = Barefoot Running” deception they are missing out on the most important aspect of actual barefoot running…

… Whenever our bare soles touch the ground we get information about the stresses, not just on our foot, but stresses, strains, abnormal torques, etc., that travel up the body. It is the senses on our bare soles that teach us to eliminate these injury-producing stresses. It is by protecting ourselves from these feelings that we continue to run in injurious manners.

With barefoot or minimalist shoes or footwear you get everything about barefoot running except the nutrition – the stuff that actually makes barefoot running beneficial.


I’m Using the Term “Barefoot Shoes” From Now On


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8 comments on “Barefoot Shoes???

  1. What you say is also true for barefoot walking and living. I go barefoot just about everywhere, but wear the Vibrams when it is just too cold to go barefoot. When I wear the Vibrams and walk or stand for a long period of time, sometimes my heal aches a bit. But when I am completely barefoot, I never have this problem. Can’t explain it but I’m sure the lack of sensation of the ground with the Vibrams has something to do with it.

  2. Much as I try not to get bothered about barefoot v minimalist, it is so hard when people are posting all over the place about ‘barefoot’ injuries. I’ve not yet found many reports of barefoot (skin on ground) injuries.

    It seems marketeers rule the mind of the majority who happily spend $100’s for something that barely resembles the thing that would help their running for free.

    Its a double edged sword, prior to books like Born to Run we could merrily get on with running our way (albeit with some odd looks) now we are being judged as misguided trend followers.

    Ah well, back to some running.

    • Exactly! Because no “sensible” person would run literally barefoot. That would hurt too much! (unless, of course, you changed the way you ran so that it was more gentle and graceful).

      And wearing pants, but no underwear is “naked”.

  3. Pingback: The Great “Barefoot Shoes” War « Ahcuah

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