Always wanted to try minimalist/barefoot running but not sure where to start? Despite what the name implies, you'll need a good shoe for it — one that's lightweight, comfortable, and built to mimic the feel of running on your bare feet. And since running without the protection of a rugged sole or the soft cushioning of a classic athletic shoe makes you change your running form immediately, you'll want to make sure you choose the right one. To make your shopping a breeze, we tested five of the most popular minimalist/barefoot running shoes on the market. Check out which ones we love the most!View Transcript »
The Barefoot Running trend is on the rise, but running barefoot doesn't always mean running without shoes. Today, we are going explore five different barefoot and minimalist running shoes so you can see which pair is most likely to work for you. Barefoot running shoes are designed to put the foot in a natural condition. By not insulating the foot with a bunch of extra cushioning like traditional running shoes, they create a natural running pattern that is considered less straining on the body. I reviewed my five picks on the following criteria. Are they comfortable? Is the shoe flat? Can you feel the road? Do you need socks? Are the shoes machine-washable? The glovelike shoe by Vibram gained notoriety in the bestselling book "Born to Run". The company makes many styles but this one seems best suited for road running. These shoes truly feel like a glove on the feet. They're not not easy to put on though. You have to get each toe in the individual sleeve. But once on, you can see your toes spreading out like they would if you were barefoot. The five-finger shoes are perfectly flat, meaning there's no heel height change. The sole is thin viva and rubber to create under foot protection and serious traction, but it offers no cushion. When running in them, you'll feel new muscles in your feet and lower legs working, and no desire to heel strike. I like that I can feel how the Five Fingers affected my running, but the fabric between the toes was uncomfortable. If you want to wear socks with these shoes, obviously, you need to buy toe socks. Running in a Vibram without socks is fine but the shoes will get a little stinky. The shoes are machine-washable, but do air dry them. You need to make the transition to running in these shoes slowly, and build up mileage unlike other running shoes, you want these to fit in the toes with no extra room. Slipping on these shoes by New Balance feels like putting on ballet shoes. They are totally flat. After wearing a traditional running shoe or most shoes for that matter, these shoes feel like they have a negative heel, like your weight is falling backwards. So just standing in them feels different. The wider toebox means you can really spread your toes in the shoe. The Vibram sole helps protect the sole of the foot, but offers no real cushion to protect when landing on a sharp rock, but I did find these shoes comfortable. The sole of the shoe creates traction for running on well-groomed dirt trails, but they also work on the road. You can really feel the road or trail in these shoes. And I think it's good to run on dirt as much as possible since it's more forgiving than asphalt. So I like the versatility the treaded sole provides. The shoe comes with a warning label explaining the importance of making the switch slowly to barefoot running. Even though the shoe looks more like a traditional running shoe compared to the five fingers, you're still making a lot of contact ground. I also like that these shoes are designed to be worn with or without socks. These shoes though are not machine washable. The meryl shoe looks more like a traditional running shoe, but it's still completely flat with no height difference between the toe and the heel. So this shoe was designed for trail running. It provides more traction than the shoe Merrill designed for the road. But like the New Balance trail shoe, the Merrel shoe is more versatile. Aside from running, it's great for hiking. The sole is definitely thicker than either the Five Fingers or New Balance shoes, but it is still very flexible. The more substantial sole feels very protective, but you can still feel the road. Since they are designed to wear without socks, to enhance the barefoot experience, it's great that they're machine washable. They just need to be air dried. Since the Nike Free is not a flat shoe and has a heel drop of 4 millimeters, it's considered a minimalist shoe as opposed to a barefoot shoe. Nike has been making variations of this style thats 2004. The shoe is super flexible and lightweight. And it feels much more cushiony than a completely flat barefoot shoe. These shoes do to help a runner transition to a mid-foot strike, which is better for the health of your joints overall. Fit-wise, the shoe feels a bit narrow, but it doesn't affect the comfort level. they also have an integrated tongue which makes them more comfy so you can wear them without socks. Nike does not say they are machine-washable, but I have taken the insole out of mine, washed wash them and let them air dry and it was fine. This shoe was also great for strength training at the gym. This shoe feels the most like a traditional running shoe only a little flatter since the heel is only 4 millimeters higher than the toe. But the entire sole is thicker. It is definitely more built out and the sole is wider in the front to provide stability. This shoe feels much more cushioned than the minimal Nike and less flexible. You can't really feel the road in these shoes, but they are so lightweight! If you're used to running in a traditional running shoe, the is a great way to go minimal since there is ample cushion and stiffness through the mid foot. You should wear socks with the Convar since the back of the heel is high and can rub on your Achilles' tendon. This shoe is not machine washable. Many of these brands include warning labels on their shoes urging runners to make the transition to barefoot running slowly to avoid injury. If you are interested in checking out the Barefoot Running trend try one of these shoes and let us know what you think. Thanks for watching FitSugar TV.