Content Producer, Menswear and Sports, johnlewis.com
In 1960, Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon, without any shoes on. Over 50 years later, and the barefoot running revolution is gathering pace around the world.
The barefoot movement is about getting back to a natural running motion. The human foot evolved over thousands of years, most of them without shoes. Unfortunately, the modern world doesn't cater for this; road surfaces are uneven and there's the occasional sharp hazard; so your feet need some protection. Barefoot running shoes are designed to offer you thin, lightweight protection but also encourage your feet to move naturally.
Running is a skill you should work on, just as you would with any other sport. Barefoot running will strip your technique bare, so you can rebuild from the roots up. Kicking off your shoes changes your stride; making you land on your forefoot rather than your heel and giving you a spring in your step.
Reduce risk of injury
There are 200,000 nerve endings in your feet, which your brain uses to move your body. Barefoot running lets your feet feel more, causing you to run lighter and strike the ground with less force, transferring less impact to your joints.
Make running enjoyable
If running sometimes feels like a gruelling punishment for you, the natural, freeing effect of feeling the ground beneath your feet could give you more enjoyment in your run.
VivoBarefoot was started by Tim Brennan, a professional tennis player who wanted to play barefoot but needed protection from outdoor tennis courts. Their minimalist shoes protect your feet from various conditions. As with all running shoes, you need to consider the environment you'll be running in when you make your choice.
Wearing barefoot shoes can feel strange at first, as you start learning a different running motion. To get started, follow these tips and you may never look back:
Don't overdo it - gradually incorporate barefoot running into your routine.
Build up the miles slowly - you can't expect to run as you did in your old shoes straight away but if you give it time, you may find that you can go further than before.
Practise - get started on grassy fields, smooth roads and soft trails until you build up technique.