Our FitSugar team loves SKORA's running shoes because they are flexible, lightweight, and rewrite the playbook for barefoot-running fashion. These women's running shoes come in two styles, and we love them so much, we're giving you free shipping when you purchase a pair! Since SKORAs run large, when ordering, make sure to buy a half size smaller than your traditional fit.
Barefoot shoes, like the Vibram FiveFingers, aren't known for their looks, but fashion and function merge in the new line of shoes from Skora. Now you can be stylish and experiment with barefoot running. And while I'm not a full-time barefoot runner, I use minimalist sneakers on short runs to improve my stride and strengthen my lower legs and feet. I've logged some miles on the road in Skora's Base barefoot shoe ($110) after the company sent me a pair to test.
Like other barefoot running shoes, the Base has a zero-drop sole, meaning the heel isn't any higher than the toe, like you'll find in a traditional running shoe. These shoes feel like slippers, totally flat and comfortable with a dense sole — much thicker than Vibrams or the New Balance Minimus Zero. I appreciate this extra protection, but for hardcore barefoot runners, the thicker sole might dampen the "feel" of the road. The toe box is roomy enough for my wide feet, and while running, my toes had room to spread out. Sizing wise, the Base runs big; I traditionally wear an eight, but the size seven fits me just fine. The crossing strap with velcro closure makes adjusting the fit of the shoe easy, and there is also a velcro strap across the heel if you want to create a more snug fit.
Summer seems like the perfect time to experiment with barefoot running, but remember it doesn't have to mean going sans shoes (see our review of five barefoot and minimalist shoes here). Completely flat barefoot running shoes are designed to protect the sole of the foot, so we recommend wearing shoes for your barefoot running, however oxymoronic that may sound.
Making the transition away from traditional running shoes, which have an eight to 12 mm rise from toe to heel and a whole lot of cushion and support, should be done slowly to avoid injury. Your body, especially your feet and lower legs, needs time to acclimate to running without shoes. Here are some tips to soften your landing into the world of barefoot running.
Walk Your Talk
Spend some time, one to two hours daily, walking around completely barefoot. This begins to strengthen the small, often unused muscles of your feet and helps fine-tune the many nerves in them, which haven't been stimulated much lately covered up in shoes. Begin to wear your barefoot shoes, running errands in them, before actually running. Pay attention to your walking stride and feel how it changes while wearing these barely there shoes.
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!
Are we better runners when the shoes come off? That's the question more runners are asking, thanks to the growing popularity of barefoot running, one of this year's biggest running trends.
It's not a new trend, however. Serious runners have been braving the asphalt sans shoes professionally for decades (some have even competed in the Olympics without them!), but the movement started gaining even more traction with the 2009 publication of the book Born to Run, in which author Christopher McDougall explores how members of a Mexican Indian tribe have learned to run hundreds of miles continuously, injury-free, wearing only thin sandals on their feet. The book's promotion of barefoot running has led to a marked increase in runners who decided to ditch their heavier running shoes for minimalist pairs, or nothing at all!
It may not be new, but 2011 was definitely the year of the minimalist/barefoot running trend. Here at FitSugar we got a jumpstart by trying it out for ourselves late last year. Turns out, barefoot running is comfortable (especially on a treadmill over asphalt) and correcting; see for yourself how much your gait can change with this video comparing minimalist running with normal running shoes.
Celebs love barefoot running too! Read on for more about the trend after the break.
Sneakers with articulated toes have been all the rage since barefoot running came onto the scene. It wasn't until Fila sent me a pair of Skele-Toes Voltage sneakers ($75) that I finally tried them out for myself. Like most minimalist running shoes, they're extremely lightweight (6 oz.), but unlike shoes designed with barefoot running in mind, these have a thick, hard sole. Intriguing design, no?
Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of these Fila sneaks.
Has the sight of celebs traipsing around town in Vibram FiveFingers made you anxious to start barefoot running? Responding to the minimalist shoe craze, the American Council on Exercise decided to test out those barefoot running shoes to see how they fared for normal everyday runners. The council tested Vibram's Bilkia model on 16 recreational joggers and compared their performance running in these shoes, regular neutral shoes, and running barefoot. So, should you dip your toes into the barefoot running trend? Read on to find out the pros and cons of running like your ancestors after the break.
Scarlett Johansson took to the streets in a pair of bright pink Vibram FiveFingers during a run with beau Sean Penn and friend Owen Wilson. The threesome made their way through a Los Angeles neighborhood together, and Scarlett demonstrated that like Reese Witherspoon, she is a midfoot striker. Striking the ground with your midfoot provides greater shock absorption than heel striking, and it puts less strain on your calf muscle and Achilles tendon. One of the benefits of running barefoot or with a minimalist running shoe is that it encourages you to improve your gait and posture. Looks like it might be working for Scarlett!
For some it's a lifestyle thing about getting back to nature, for others it is all about efficiency; regardless of the reasons, barefoot running is taking off. When teaching Pilates, I often preached the merits of strong feet and walking barefoot. Every time your foot hits the ground when taking a step, the contact initiates a chain of muscular events that create dynamic support from your heel all the way to your lower back. Shoes damped the effectiveness of the natural muscular pattern, and confused muscles can lead to those dreaded overuse injuries. Prior to having my gait analyzed by running coach Lee Saxby, he explained that when we encase our feet in puffy sneakers they interfere with correct body mechanics, allowing us to jog, striking our heels heavily into the ground with each step. Saxby said running is more efficient bio mechanically than jogging, which blends the motions of walking with running. But running also uses up more calories than jogging, and the body likes to conserve calories — remember as we evolved, food (aka calories and energy) was pretty scarce. So we allow ourselves to jog, and the shoes, in his opinion, aid this disastrous technique.
Learn what I thought about running with no sneakers and check out a video of how my gait changed without them when you read more
While working out on the stationary bike a few weeks ago, I had the incredible urge to take off my shoes. I don't know exactly how to explain it except to say that my feet felt disconnected with the rest of my body. Kicking off my shoes worked like a charm; my feet felt engaged, and I felt more grounded to the bike. I've been doing it ever since — whenever I work out at home to one of my fitness DVDs, I do it without shoes on. I was apprehensive at first and had the usual worries about support, stability, and shock absorbency, but I've had much better workouts this way. In fact, I'm performing many of the exercises with more control and balance, and my feet and leg muscles feel like they are getting a better workout because the muscles are more engaged.