Barefoot type shoes

Hi everyone,

I’ve been having knee issues for a few months and after a trip to the physio she has recommended I see a podiatrist about potential foot problems that are causing the pain. I’m waiting for a referral at the moment but have been talking to people who have been through the podiatrist and ended up being given orthopedics that are really huge and chunky and basically impossible to wear on a frequent basis.

I’ve been looking at barefoot/minimalist shoes and was wondering if anyone has any experience using these? I’m thinking they might be a better way of strengthening my feet and correcting the problem without having to rely on insoles.



They might, on someone else’s feet. They might with you, but then again they might not and make the situation worse.

I’d wait for the professional advice.


I’ve heard a lot of people say crocs help.

Edit: obviously go with whatever the specialist says, but their meant to be comfy around the house

I agree with @j06. Wait to see what they say and considering its to do with your feet/legs/spine, I wouldn’t take the risk and just trying something when they’re not a professional.

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Morning Laura!

Just caught a glimpse of your post in the Community email update. I thought I might be able to offer something that might help you decision.

I have struggled with joint pain throughout my body since a teen (cartledge issue).
Up until my early 20s I had all kinds of insoles and supports. off the shelf, from professionals. All with a view to help straighten me up and alleviate some of the pressure on my knees, hips and back.

Then I discovered Vibram FiveFingers (iirc via Stuff Magazine)! I got my first pair of VFFs c2009 in Sheffield at a place called Naked Ape. A great experience. properly measured, solid advice. everything retail should be to be fair.

I have had various models/variants over the years. I pretty much wear them all year round since the launch of the insulated high tops (Trek Ascent).

My wife thinks I wear them for the attention. she’s kinda right! I get stopped by folk all the time “look at his shoes!”
But above all, the comfort, the grip, the flexibility. My walk is straight and strong and I have incredible balance. Letting my body do the work, building up the muscle/s groups and not relying on aids and additions. Isn’t what we’re designed for?

I’m not saying you should definitely get some. or that they will work for you. I hear some don’t take to them like I did. Others it’s taken a bit of “getting use to”.

What I would suggest is that you get in front of a retailer that knows the product. Get properly measured (you think you know your foot size. you don’t. trust me!). The Vibram experience is not what it used to be here in the UK (compared to the US). Online there’s a lot of fake/copies.

Here are some of my favourites

Ps, you can but you don’t have to wear socks with them. Some it doesn’t make sense to.
Oh! The fit, it’s supposed to be close. like a glove. If you move around in them, they aren’t the right size IMHO. And you don’t need straight toes to wear them. lol

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Barefoot shoes are the best way to go in the long run for every one it makes everything more natural.

It is worth remembering that you shouldn’t jump straight into using them. Start by reducing the drop on the shoes you wear and build up to wearing barefoot slowly so your body can adjust to them. I’m in the process of moving into barefoot for running.

As it’s for medical reasons I would seek the advice of a professional, maybe a few professionals to get a well informed answer. Remember what works for 1 person will not always work for another.

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These two statements are contradictory, surely?

I think it’s pretty irresponsible to assert the first statement on the internet when it comes to people’s health and bodies, and folk should always seek medical advice. I know for a fact that not everyone would benefit by using barefoot shoes (as I have family members who have been told not to use), and you seem to know it too, because you’re simultaneously imploring people to seek advice.

Please, everyone, never seek or offer personal medical advice on the internet. It’s dangerous.

There is tons of evidence that being barefoot is better for is as it is the most natural way for our feet which in turn means we walk/run properly which takes pressure of ankles, knees, hips and back. So it is a true evidence backed statement (just Google it). I then went on to explain the transition should be carried out correctly and anything medical should get a professional opinion(doctor, physio and sports scientists would be a good start).

I’m sure there is, but it certainly doesn’t recommend that everyone should use barefoot shoes.

The statement of what works for one won’t work for another was so that some e doesnt just copy something someone on a forum said without getting plenty of advice first, I do however believe barefoot would help but I am not a doctor.

I’ve read a lot recently by sports scientists and phsios saying going barefoot could go a long way to solving joint issues simply because it improves posture which in turn makes muscles around joins stronger and reduces the chance of injury and should improve existing conditions. Again it’s only what I e read and I’m by no means a medical professional.

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I have been through professionals (at hospitals not just a podiatrist) and duly got ‘supports’ for my feet. Then for another reason went to see an osteopath who said to think of your feet like your hands. Would you go around wearing hard wrist supports on your hands and confining them in tight hard cases? My answer; Err no only after breaking a wrist bone and then I would do flexibility and strengthening exercises.
So after three years of ’ barefoot ’ and exercises to strengthen my feet I am in much less pain and my big toes have become straighter.
I try to buy shoes with a lot of toe room and flexibility especially in the summer. To enable wider fittings (I am EEE or H) I have been buying boys Clarks shoes for winter (unfortunately these are not barefoot but boys have less lift than the girls which are lower quality too). Otherwise I buy Vivo Barefoot sandles and they have more normal style shoes. Alas only one closed style fits my very wide feet at present. They are online with a London store.
I have also bought Xero shoes, in my case when they only had DIY versions and they ship from the USA. You need to follow the sizing instructions carefully and their customer service has always been helpful and their soles are warranted for 5,000 miles so I have only ever bought one pair!
I am not medically trained but as your feet have many nerve endings (over 200,000 apparently!), like your hands, treating them similarly struck me as obvious once it was pointed out to me. Feet have additional nerves for pressure reception and if you draw a diagram of the body sized by the amount of nerves you get very large hands, feet and lips. If you go barefoot do it slowly as you have to learn to walk again and your muscles will get tired quickly.


Not convinced with barefoot type shoes. Having run quite a few marathons I have experimented with a lot of shoes…

I have concluded that if you are running or walking on cement/brick then you need a supported shoe. If you are running on dirt/grass/sand then go minimalist.

Having had knee problems from running the foam roller has worked magic. Highly recommend. Also found acupuncture to work wonders.

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Foam rollers are great I take mine everywhere with me.

I’ve gone minimal and working on going to barefoot for both trail and road/tarmac running so far I’m feeling much better and my running gait is much better. I’m running more on the mid and ball of the foot so much led heal strike and my foot position is straighter than previously. I’m also running with better posture. Granted I’m only doing about 3 miles good in barefoot shoes at the moment, my normal running shoes for trail only have 4mm drop and my road shoes are 5mm and I generally run about 20 miles a week and compete ate various distances during the year.
Even the boots I use carrying weight only have a 5mm drop and in thinking about reducing that too.

Thought they were a joke for years until I realised they don’t all look as ridiculous as the silly toe shoes. Now have three pairs of Vivobarefoot and very happy with them.