If you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to 100% barefoot running just yet, you do have another option: a barefoot shoe.
But is this the right approach for you?
The obvious advantage over barefoot running is that you have an added layer of support and safety from direct contact with the elements.
But just like with barefoot running, you need to transition slowly and learn new techniques that are safe and effective for this different style.
If you do, you’ll enjoy some added perks.
Studies suggest that wearing a barefoot shoe can help strengthen your calves and some stabilizing muscles in your feet. And compared to those who use conventional shoes, runners also improved their plantar flexor strength.
However, how you train and how you run will ultimately determine any results you see, so whether you run barefoot or with a barefoot shoe, technique matters more than footwear.
If you continue to land on the forefoot or midfoot, for instance, you can tap into the complex network of muscles with plantar flexion, helping your feet grow stronger.
But as studies have noted, there is a limit to these gains.
If you want to benefit the most from wearing barefoot shoes, you should only use them 35% of the time. There’s no data to suggest that transitioning fully to barefoot shoes will add any extra benefits.
In fact, you risk stressing your ankle and metatarsals when using barefoot shoes on a consistent basis, so moderation and pacing are key.
If you do decide to make the jump to barefoot shoes, slowly work them into your shoe rotation – but do not transition to them fully. As I mentioned earlier, they’re no substitute for running 100% barefoot.
Ultimately, if you feel barefoot shoes will help you with this transition or you want them for running particularly rough terrain, go right ahead. Just be sure that you’re focusing on technique and moderation while switching over to them and, above all else, listen to your feet and body.
Five-finger shoes are one of the best Barefoot Shoes that can effectively exercise the muscles of the feet and calves, thereby improving running posture and better preventing injuries.