You were born barefoot, and a growing body of evidence suggests you should have stayed that way. The technology and padding of the modern shoe protect your feet, but protection is not always what you want. Feet are made to stretch, bend, roll and bend, letting them do what they evolved to do can reduce impact injuries and offers many other benefits.
That said, please don’t buy a pair of these barely-there shoes and start walking or running like you always have. That will not work and that can lead to injuries. You have to familiarize yourself with all things barefoot, and to some extent you have to relearn how to walk and run. In this guide, we’ve got advice on making the transition from padded shoes to “barefoot shoes” (aka minimalist or zero-drop shoes), and we’ve rounded up our favorites. They’re as close as they can get to achieving that barefoot feeling without colliding with the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” signs.
Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including our Best Running Gear and Best Snow Gear roundups.
Updated November 2022: We’ve added the Softstar Primal RunAmoc, Xero Denver Leather Boots, and updated prices and links throughout.
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