i have always preferred to run barefoot. after many years of barefoot martial arts, i much prefer to exercise that way. and when i run in running shoes, my legs often feel the effects of the heel-pounding. this video shows the effects of running barefoot and shod… basically shoes force you to run on your heels (heel strike) where the foot’s natural shock-absorbing actions cannot function. plus there is nothing quite as joyful as running barefoot. try it on some grass or sand – it’s just incredible!
i was an early adopter of Nike Free back in 2004 when they first came out – a shoe designed to mimic the feel and effects of running barefoot, but they gave me blisters in the top of my arch. i have tried many different solutions and have never been completely satisfied. i love to run barefoot, but since most of my running is on trails, it often hurts… even with the soles of my feet hardened by my many years of martial arts.
i think i have found a solution!
i recently bought a pair of vibram five-finger KSOs (keep stuff out). you’ve seen them im sure – the shoes with the individual toe pockets. ive been told i look funny wearing them – but i love them! while the average running shoe has 35-40mm of loft at the heel, the vibrams have merely 6mm. so they feel exactly like running barefoot… but i am protected from the rocks, sticks, and pokey things that line every trail here in virginia.
so i can cheat at running barefoot – enjoying all the freedom, the joy, and the tactile advantage of barefoot running without paying the price of footpain. i took them out yesterday in a really muddy bog… running in mud and water sometimes up to my ankles, and they never missed a beat. i could grip with my toes, jump over creeks and logs, hop from rock to rock, and never slipped once.