Barefoot running shoes are beneficial for running and jogging, especially for the boxer. We don’t run marathons and don’t require the same equipment that long-distance runners do, nevertheless we still need appropriate footwear for our daily endurance-building runs. Choosing the best shoe benefits you through comfort, support, durability, and more.
Traditionally, boxers did not use barefoot running shoes when running or jogging. Your basic, garden variety sneakers were used for running outside or on the treadmill. While it’s a tried-and-true formula, I prefer a different approach.
Understand that basic sneakers do not allow for the type of pivoting and movement that a boxer does. They also have significant padding, which offers a remarkably different foot and ground feel than boxing shoes (or boots) like the Adidas Combat Speed III. The Adidas have a thin sole with incredible grip, not a thick, spongy sole with ample cusioning. Running delivers more impact on the foot than boxing does, so the barefoot running shoes should have at least enough padding underfoot to make the run enjoyable. Additionally, boxers can employ Good Form Running techniques. Having a running shoe with a similar feel and handling of a boxing shoe is a very good idea, in my book.
Here are five tips for buying barefoot running shoes that should keep your feet happy and healthy:
- Functionality Over Style
- Go Later in the Day Once Your Foot Has Expanded
- Wear the Appropriate Socks (or Not)
- Don’t be a Brand Loyalist
- Buy the Appropriate Size
Functionality Over Style
Make sure the shoe you choose is suited to the task at hand. I love the chunky urban vibe of the Adidas Roundhouse Mid (even though I will probably never buy them: they won’t work well with flat front slacks and button down shirts), but their split-slab sole simply can’t handle jogging on city streets like the Minimus Trail MT 10 can. The Trail, with its gnarlier sole, flexible construction, and structured support, is not as attractive but much more durable for barefoot running.
Go Later in the Day Once Your Foot Has Expanded
Don’t make the mistake of buying your running shoes the first thing in the morning. Your foot expands as the day goes on, so make your trip to the shoe store later in the day. Some of us hold water weight, salt makes some persons’ feet expand, and still others swell due to heat. Being on your feet all day long can contribute to swollen feet, as well. The swelling reaches its peak later in the afternoon, so your feet will be a different size in the afternoon than they are in the morning.
You want your feet to feel natural in your barefoot running shoes, so be aware that your feet will expand. Make sure to keep the shoes on your feet for a while in the shoe store so you get a good idea of how it feels on your feet. Walk around in them, bend and flex some, allow your feet to feel the shoe. This is especially true if you intend to wear the running shoes without socks. You want to know how any inseams will feel against your foot!
Wear the Appropriate Socks (or Not)
Some barefoot running shoes are designed to be worn barefoot—with no socks. Determine how you will wear your barefoot running shoes and try them on accordingly. Should you try on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers KSO with tube socks? Of course not, they’ll never fit. You’ll need a pair of Injinji socks, instead. So if you plan to run sockless in your barefoot running shoes you’ll have to try them on without socks.
I don’t know how many individuals actually try on Five Fingers barefoot for an extended amount of time. I’d be very cautious in that case, as bacteria may spread. Caveat emptor…
Don’t be a Brand Loyalist
Be aware that a shoe brand may not have a winner across their entire product line, and you may have to look elsewhere. New Balance has a hit on their hands with their Minimus line, however the venerable MT 10, with its contentious foot strap, gave some wearers trouble and caused them to move over to Vibram’s Five Fingers line.
Be prepared to entertain different brands for different purposes. Your favorite brand may have the best boxing shoe and no plans to create a barefoot running shoe. You’ll have to find another shoe company in such a situation.
Buy the Appropriate Size
Make certain to buy your correct size, based on an actual measuring device. I can wear a US 7 1/2 or 8 men’s shoe while my sneaker size can vary between an 8 and 10! Barefoot running shoes can be cut anywhere from a 1/2 size too small to a 1/2 size too large.
The right size shoe helps not only with appropriate fit, but with avoiding the alarming Runner’s toe (Subungual hematoma)—the nauseating and repulsive condition that stems from friction, compression, and constriction of your toes against the inside of your running shoe. Ask Anton Krupicka.
Sometimes your toenails jam backward into your toe, causing bleeding, swelling, and separation. Your toenails blacken and (sometimes) fall off, your toes are irritated, swollen, and painful, and flip flops become a thing of the past for you. Buying your running shoes a half size larger allows for the room you need to give your toes room so you don’t end up with ugly runner’s toes.
I’ve provided these tips based on common sense, research, first-hand attempts to get my shoes to fit, and speaking with qualified personnel. Following them will get you on the road to successfully choosing the appropriate barefoot running shoe for yourself, so keep them in mind when you go shopping. Read More