How to Run in Vibram Five Fingers, Barefoot, or in Other Minimalist Footwear (a.k.a. "Barefoot Shoes")


Creative Commons License photo credit: Grafik Mekanik

When it comes to running naturally it's all about landing gently!

And believe it or not, this is how you used to run as a kid, without even thinking about it.

Unfortunately for most adults, it is commonly believed that in order to run, play, or do anything outside, you must wear appropriate shoes — most often cushioned, heavy, thick-heeled trainers or sneakers. But who can't remember going outside to play, run, and even sprint completely barefoot as a kid? You might even remember hearing your parents yelling as you parted ways out the door to "Put your shoes on!"

Sometimes kids are much smarter than adults — not because they know something, but because they don't. And in the case of modern footwear, it's the kids who are the gurus — they know how to run naturally because they've not acquired the bad habits that come from years of wearing high-heeled platform shoes with expensive swooshes adorning their sides.

In the case of running, being able to run naturally is all about landing gently; indeed, barefoot running is the most surefire way to run gently — because if you don't, your foot is going to scream in pain at you!

When you run the trick is to land lightly — barefoot or minimalist running forces you to land lightly because you'll maximize the feedback from the ground. If you run hard on pebbles barefoot, it will hurt, so you run lightly (and quietly). In turn, impact forces on your body are reduced, allowing you to run pain- and injury-free.

When switching from shod running to barefoot running or running in minimalist footwear such as Vibram Five Fingers, your goal will be to unlearn years of bad habits acquired from running in thickly heeled shoes. This process takes time and it is incredibly important to take it slow. The atrophy to the muscles of your feet, ankles, and legs caused by wearing foot casts can take a long time to rehabilitate. It also takes time to strengthen the bones of your feet and "get" the proper bio-mechanics down!

If you gave up on running because it hurt, good news!  You can run naturally and pain free!Below you'll find helpful resources about how to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes such as Vibram Five Fingers. These posts include introductions to popular natural running techniques like ChiRunning and Pose Tech running — methods that serve as guides on your journey to running pain-free — and also a great guide on how to transition to Vibram Five Finger shoes running.

Guides aside, here's the bottom Line:

Running is not supposed to hurt (aside from muscle soreness), and if it is, you're doing it wrong. Barefoot running and Vibram Five Fingers running is about mastering running gently. Do that and you will run pain-free.

Tags: running

First Half-Marathon in Toe Shoes (Vibrams)

First Half-Marathon in Toe Shoes (Vibrams)
First Half-Marathon in Toe Shoes (Vibrams)
I had a great time running the 30th Annual Kaiser SF Half Marathon earlier this month in my 5 Fingers KSOs (sans socks)! It was a wonderful event with over 5,000 participants held in beautiful Golden Gate Park. Although I had run in hi… more »

ChiRunning, the Book. A Minimalist Perspective.

ChiRunning, the Book. A Minimalist Perspective.
ChiRunning, the Book. A Minimalist Perspective.
Just finished reading ChiRunning, the book about the popular technique. When I say "popular" in this context I'm referring mostly to the passion ChiRunning practitioners exude for it. I'm slightly terrified about commenting at all, because in my experie… more »

Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8K—Or, how to do barefoot all wrong

After one of my early, more successful barefoot runs.
After one of my early, more successful barefoot runs.
Like many runners and other athletes, I hold several concurrent goals in mind — most of which are ever-moving targets. First is the simplest and most familiar: the shifting distance goal. At first I just wanted to work up to a 10k. Then it was maybe 15… more »

Baptised by Mud in FiveFingers KomodoSport

Baptised by Mud in FiveFingers KomodoSport
Baptised by Mud in FiveFingers KomodoSport
I recently got a note from Shuhong, a BirthdayShoes reader and runner from Malaysia. Shuhong's story is one of slow and steady transition to minimalist shoes, ultimately switching over to KomodoSport Vibram FiveFingers. Here's Shuhong's story: Gr… more »

Running the Marine Corps Marathon in Luna Sandals [Race Report]

James (bottom left — nevermind the smiling runner photo-bombing him!) before and after running 26.2 miles in his Luna Sandals huaraches in the Marine Corps Marathon.
James (bottom left — nevermind the smiling runner photo-bombing him!) before and after running 26.2 miles in his Luna Sandals huaraches in the Marine Corps Marathon.
When people see me running in my huaraches, I'm often told I'll never be able to run a marathon in them. Finally, I can say I can because I have. On October 28, my 42nd birthday coincidentally, I completed my first marathon, the 37th Marine Corps Marat… more »

Ironman NYC (Vibram SeeYa) Race Report

Sign at the Welcome Banquet—don’t ask me what the extra digit is for!
Ironman NYC (Vibram SeeYa) Race Report
I recently had the opportunity to race the inaugural Ironman New York City triathlon. I ran the marathon portion in Vibram SeeYas, which have easily become my go-to FiveFinger model for running. Overall the race went very well and I hit all of my goals… more »

Running My First Half-Marathon

Jay crosses the finish line in the Corvallis Half Marathon - on the Oregon State football field in 2:07 sporting some hornet-colored Dash Soft Start RunAmocs.
Jay crosses the finish line in the Corvallis Half Marathon - on the Oregon State football field in 2:07 sporting some hornet-colored Dash Soft Start RunAmocs.
After 13 miles of running, my 6-year old drives a toy car on me. He may be trying to tell me something. We all know Murphy's Law. And it has several corollaries. I learned one during training for the Half. Call it Jay's Corollary: If you are going to… more »

Going for a World Record: Juggling an entire Triathlon

Going for a World Record: Juggling an entire Triathlon
Going for a World Record: Juggling an entire Triathlon
Most didn’t think it’s possible. I mean, how would you swim and juggle? How about biking and juggling? Well, I’ll explain briefly how I got to this goal of juggling while competing in a triathlon. I am a runner, juggler, and joggler. Joggling (running a… more »

Book Review: Run Barefoot Run Healthy

Run Barefoot Run Healthy: Less Pain More Gain for Runners over 30 by Ashish Mukharji is a compilation of hundreds of answers to the questions most often asked on the topic of barefoot running. Ashish makes a strong case for shedding footwear altogether… more »

I am a Barefoot Runner. It's changed my life.

The following video has been making a few rounds among barefoot running circles. I'd describe it as a comical take on barefoot running. Allow me to introduce Rory Coatsworth, the Barefoot Runner. Note: before you press play, it's ever so slightly… more »

Walter (W.G.) George and Learning to Run with the 100-Up

Could a drill you could practice virtually anywhere be the key to better, even possibly best, running form? And if W.G. George's 100-Up could make you a better runner — teach you how to run fast and injury free — wouldn't you want to learn it? The possibility of mastering the 100-Up so fascinated me that I dedicated a chunk of my weekend to creating a challenge around the exercise but I need your help. Could a drill you could practice virtually anywhere be the key to better, even possibly best, running form? And if W.G. George's 100-Up could make you a better runner — teach you how to run fast and injury free — wouldn't you want to learn it? The possibility of mastering the 100-Up so fascinated me that I dedicated a chunk of my weekend to creating a challenge around the exercise but I need your help. more »

VIVOBAREFOOT Barefoot Running Technique Course

VIVOBAREFOOT Barefoot Running Technique Course
VIVOBAREFOOT Barefoot Running Technique Course
"I agree with you completely. After looking at what is involved, it looks like a money making scheme to profit on the barefoot movement." This was the comment I posted on Jason Robillard's Barefoot Running University website in reply to his blog post,… more »

Women's KomodoSport Vibram FiveFingers Review

Leah sits atop Yosemite's Half Dome after a 17 mile day hike. She wore Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSports for the trip.
Leah sits atop Yosemite's Half Dome after a 17 mile day hike. She wore Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSports for the trip.
As soon as I put one foot into the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSports I knew they were going to be good. They are designed to be an all purpose running/cross training VFF. I’ve been hiking, trail running, and doing Crossfit in them for two months now and… more »

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila and Sprint Long-Term Review

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila and Sprint Long-Term Review
Vibram FiveFingers Bikila and Sprint Long-Term Review
1,250 miles later: VFF Sprints & BikilasOver the last two racing seasons, I’ve used Vibram Five Fingers Sprints and Bikilas in training and racing a number of events ranging from 5K running races and sprint triathlons to half marathons, marathons,… more »

Natural Running in Huaraches and Vibram Five Fingers

James, Al and Spud
James, Al and Spud at the 2011 Pensacola Double Bridge 15K Run.
James and his buddies have been gradually increasing their miles and competing in longer races in preparation for a half marathon. James sent us this story about their last run in the 2011 Pensacola Double Bridge 15K Run:Fellow barefoot runners a… more »

Vibram Five Fingers Help with Plantar Fasciitis

Vibram Five Fingers Help with Plantar Fasciitis
John running in a local Turkey Trot and trail running in the Coronado Mtns, AZ.
John sent us the following story about how Vibram Five Fingers have helped him solve his plantar fasciitis problems:Listen up kiddos. I have major feet problems, plantar fasciitis and the Army gave me inserts, which gave me Stress Fractures. Told m… more »

New York City Marathon in Vibram Five Fingers Speeds

Michal in his Speeds
Michal running the New York City Marathon in his Speeds
Michal recently ran his first marathon in Vibram Five Fingers Speeds finishing the New York City Marathon in a time of 3:47:40. Read his race report and story after the jump!I have been a fan of minimalist shoes for a few years, owning, let me co… more »

A Snowy Gobble Gallop in Vibram Five Fingers

A Snowy Gobble Gallop in Vibram Five Fingers
Dudley and his wife at the Gobble Gallop.
Dudley and his wife braved the frigid Minnesota winter to participate in a Turkey Day 5k in their Vibram Five Fingers. After the jump, read Dudley's report and find out how his Five Fingers performed in the snow!I ran my first official race in… more »

Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run

Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run
Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run
Last Saturday, online retailer of Vibram Five Fingers, TravelCountry.com, sponsored their first annual Barefoot Fun Run in Altamonte Springs, FL. The proceeds from the event went to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Florida.James, a runner wh… more »

First Marathon in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs

Chris in his KSOs
Chris at the 22.5 mile mark and after he finished.
After doing no marathon training, Chris recently ran his first marathon in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs and finished with a darn good time. You may remember Chris from when he ran the Baltimore Half Marathon with Bien. Here's what he sent us about running th… more »