They are everywhere: shoes with toes. And if they don’t have toes, they are still so light and little that it’s like running barefoot. So what’s the big hype? Is barefoot running good for you? The answer is: it depends.

Like any shoe, or any foot for that matter, what’s “good” for you depends on, well, you. The idea behind barefoot shoes is that they allow your foot strike to naturally coincide with your body. What does this mean?

According to a study done by the University of Nebraska, people who wear regular running shoes, that is, those that are heavier, “ratings of perceived effort were…higher with shoes on.” In other words, barefoot running is more economical. Because your body is working with itself naturally, it is working with its own forces and center of gravity, which is a huge benefit.

However, the same study also points out that running barefoot, or even in such toe shoes as Vibrams, that even a slight change in your shoes’ weight and thinness of the sole alters your running state. What the researchers do suggest is train and run in shoes that are comfortable for you, whether lighter, heavier, thinner or thicker.

What that means for people like me is that toe shoes might not be the best bet. I need a little extra arch support, which is something barefoot running can’t offer. Let’s just say that the last time I tried it, my feet rolled so hard in that my arches and ankles were sore for days.

Not to say your shouldn’t try it; like the study says, whatever is comfortable for you is what’s best.

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