Why should I even go barefoot, what advantages will it give my body, what should I watch out for while running barefoot and what's so special about barefoot shoes? We have answered the most frequently asked questions for you.
What are the benefits of going barefoot?
- Strengthens the muscles in your feet.
- Realigns your natural posture.
- Feeling the ground stimulates sensory perception.
- Flexes your feet as nature designed.
Why is barefoot better?
When walking barefoot, we walk correctly. This means landing softly on the heel and using the power in your toes to push off. When we walk this way we tone muscles, increase sensory perception, improve posture and strengthen core. Wearing traditional shoes with inflexible soles, padded heels, and arch supports prevents this motion, weakens the foot and ultimately causes injury.
Is there any evidence that barefoot is better?
Leading international scientists, biomechanics experts, and running coaches are in agreement that being barefoot is the healthiest way to be. Nearly all research involving barefoot versus shod studies tend to highlight that barefoot is better. Our research section provides a collection of impartial studies both recent and historical that add evidence to the benefits of being barefoot.
I want to start running barefoot - what do I need to do?
Firstly, don't think about lacing up in your heavy, padded running trainers. Instead take off your shoes and let your feet breathe.
You need to start from scratch by resetting your posture and relearning your innate running technique.
You'll need to gradually strengthen your core and leg muscles, and lower-leg tendons and ligaments. The soles of your feet will also slowly adapt and act as natural protection.
How do I warm up, before a run?
You need to spend at least 5 minutes resetting your posture and tuning into your body's natural elasticity and rhythm. Watch Lee Saxby’s training video to see the best way to prepare.
How far should I go, to start off with?
There is a natural temptation to run as far as you would have in your running trainers. It is important to refrain from doing this and approach the initial stages of barefoot running with caution. If you do too much too soon you are likely to injure yourself. The reason is you have more than likely spent the majority of your life in conventional shoes. Your muscles, tendons and ligaments will probably be weak and unable to support your body in the early phases of barefoot running training.
What are the most important things to think about when running?
Posture - Lead with your chest, keep your head up whilst looking toward the horizon. To help with posture think about keeping your ears as far from your shoulders as possible (don't stretch though). Footwork - Take light, short steps. You should be landing flat footed with the weight on the ball of your foot. This is the hard piece of foot directly behind your big toe. If you jump up and down on the spot a few times you’ll find it.
Do I need to change my technique? Is posture important?
More than likely, yes. We spend our modern lives hunched over a desk and it is more than likely you will be running in this posture. Take five minutes doing the simple exercise demonstrated above to ´reset´ your posture.
I'm worried about impact, as there's no protection. What are the dangers?
Heel striking or landing heavily will hurt and a natural shift to mid/fore-foot striking is likely to occur. Modern trainers encourage you to heel strike, which is effectively like coming to a stop with each pace. When you land with the front of your foot you use your arch and the muscles and tendons in your foot to absorb impact naturally. A good running technique will enhance this. (Daniel Lieberman study)
I'm worried about stepping on glass / needles / debris. Do I need to be worried?
This is the one aspect of barefoot running where you are not in control. Our shoes that use our patented VIVOBAREFOOT technology have a very thin, puncture resistant sole. They allow all the benefits of barefoot running as well as protection from sharp and potentially dangerous foreign objects. Also, next time you are out running take a look around and you will see there is not so much glass or needles littering our streets.
The ground is too rough - what should / can I do?
The soles of your feet will adapt slowly and eventually toughen up. Walking barefoot will aid your adaptation. If a surface is too rough our shoes, using VIVOBAREFOOT technology, will allow all the benefits of barefoot running and enable you to run on any surface.
I have an injury or pain. What should I do?
Stop; listen to your body. If something hurts then it probably means you are doing or have done damage. Re-evaluate your technique and take an extra rest day and try again. If the pain returns; stop again and consult a doctor or physiotherapist. We also suggest asking our expert, Lee Saxby, he maybe able to offer some valuable advice.
Can I wear VIVOBAREFOOT shoes even though I have problems with my arches, my back or my knees?
Wearing VIVOBAREFOOT shoes can help you overcome injury. Walking barefoot will strengthen the muscles in your arches and feet, realign your posture and put less stress on your knees.
I normally wear insoles in my shoes. Do VIVOBAREFOOT shoes support my feet even though they do not have an arch support?
People with chronic foot injuries are often prescribed orthotic support. While this can be beneficial in the short term, many people wear orthotics permanently, which can be detrimental to foot strength and health. We recommend a gradual transition back to barefoot walking leading to stronger and healthier feet. If you are in any doubt or have any serious medical conditions, please consult a specialist.