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Barefoot Footwear: The Benefits and Choices

March 6, 2023
Dhruv Verma

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards minimalist footwear, with many people opting to ditch their conventional shoes in favor of barefoot alternatives. Barefoot footwear is designed to mimic the feel and function of being barefoot, while still providing protection for the feet.

Why Go Barefoot?

The human foot is an incredibly complex and versatile structure, capable of adapting to a wide range of surfaces and activities. However, conventional footwear can often restrict the natural movements of the foot, leading to a host of problems such as muscle weakness, imbalance, and injury.

By wearing barefoot footwear, you can reap the following benefits:

  1. Improved Balance and Stability: When walking barefoot, your feet have to work harder to maintain balance, strengthening the muscles and improving stability over time.
  2. Increased Sensory Feedback: Wearing shoes with thick soles and cushioning can dampen the sensory feedback from the ground, reducing your awareness of your environment and potentially increasing the risk of injury.
  3. Enhanced Strength and Flexibility: The muscles in your feet and lower legs are forced to work harder in barefoot footwear, leading to improved strength and flexibility.
  4. Reduced Injuries: By allowing your feet to move and function naturally, barefoot footwear can reduce the risk of common running injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

Types of Barefoot Footwear

There is a wide range of barefoot footwear available, ranging from minimalist sandals to performance running shoes. Some popular options include:

        1. Barefoot Performance Shoes:
Top Brands: Vivobarefoot, Groundies, Freet, Xero Shoes, Uncivilized Athletics

Designed for the runner looking to transition to a more natural running style, barefoot running shoes offer a minimal amount of cushioning and support, allowing your feet to move and function naturally.

        2. Minimalist Sandals:
Top Brands: Luna Sandals, Earth Runners, Shamma Sandals

Barefoot sandals offer a minimal amount of protection for the foot, allowing you to experience the sensation of being barefoot while still providing protection from sharp objects and rough surfaces.

        3. Minimalist Casual Shoes:

Top Brands: Wildling, Bearfoot, Belenka, Soft Star Shoes, The Drifter Leather, Feelgrounds

Perfect for everyday wear, minimalist casual shoes offer a more conventional look while still allowing your feet to move and function naturally.

What to Look For in Barefoot Footwear

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right pair of barefoot shoes:

  1. Material: Look for a shoe with a flexible, breathable upper material that will move with your foot.
  2. Toe Box: Make sure the toe box is wide enough to allow your toes to spread out and move freely.
  3. Arch Support: Consider whether you need extra arch support and look for a shoe with a higher arch or built-in support.
  4. Sole: A thin, flexible sole is important for a barefoot feel, but make sure it also provides enough protection for your feet.
  5. Heel: Look for a shoe with a low heel-to-toe drop, which will help you maintain a more natural stride.

Sizing for Barefoot Footwear

StrutFit Sizing Module for Bearfoot Footwear
Barefoot retailers like Bearfoot use StrutFit to help their customers get their sizing from home.

Fit is a matter of personal preference - some people like their shoes snug while others prefer a more loose fit. Barefoot shoes should fit loose around the toe box, this will give your toes space to fill into their natural shape. This means that you may need to size up compared to your typical shoe size. If you are used to conventional footwear, at first you may feel that your barefoot shoes are a bit unstructured. This feeling will soon wear off and your feet will spread out more in a more natural, unrestricted environment.

When purchasing footwear it is best to try several sizes and walk around to determine the best fit. Ofcourse that is not always an option, and a lot of consumers prefer to buy online due to a wider selection of styles and sizes, the ability to compare prices and functionality or just the convenience of shopping from the comfort of their couch.  

Barefoot retailers like Vivobarefoot, Bearfoot Shoes, Uncivilized Athletics, and Bprimal have teamed up with StrutFit to provide their customers with a simple, fast and reliable method to confirm their sizing. StrutFit users are able to take a photo of their foot and get their exact size in any pair of shoes directly on these websites. 

StrutFit’s Virtual Sizing Platform uses machine vision and AI to measure the length and width of a foot and provide a suitable size to the consumer. Users can also adjust the recommended size based on their fitting preference. With StrutFit, barefoot retailers are able to provide more confidence to their customers, convert more website visits into sales and ensure a lower number across their StrutFit sales.


Barefoot footwear has numerous benefits that help re-align, strengthen and restore your feet to the way nature had intended . Whether you're a runner looking to transition to a more natural running style or just looking for a more comfortable and functional everyday shoe, there is a barefoot footwear option to suit your needs. Give them a try and experience the difference for yourself!

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