The shoes that mimic running barefoot


A new range of shoes try to reproduce the feel of running without any footwear. We try them out



The barefoot running movement has built up serious momentum over the last few years, as followers have raved about the joys of ditching your trainers in favour of your own two feet. The health benefits, they say, are numerous, avoiding such perils as aching knee joints and damaged foot tissue, associated with over-cushioned training shoes. Many, including founder Ken Bob Saxton, even run marathons barefoot.

This all sounds well and good when picturing an idyllic jog across a field or beach, but for city runners faced with pavements littered with dog mess and broken glass, it does not have quite the same allure.

However, help is at hand from outdoor gear manufacturer Vibram, which has developed shoes that make you feel like you aren't wearing any. These aren't the emperor's new clothes; you are actually donning a pair of lightweight trainers when you wriggle into the FiveFinger footwear range.

The sales assistant is quick to reassure me that I'm speedier than most, but it still feels like a game of "this little piggy goes to market" as I manoeuvre myself into each slot. Once in, Vibram claims my new £98.99 footwear will mimic the child-like joy of shoelessness, and aid balance, stability and propulsion.

Putting them to the test, I am impressed, if a little embarrassed, by the freedom the bright aqua, rubber-glove-like shoes give my feet. After a distance, there is a slight rub that you would associate with any new shoe, but presumably this is a matter of wearing in. Online, fans of FiveFingers have excitedly discussed a more intimate running experience, closer to the ground. And as I experience every crack and bump fully for the first time, I can certainly relate to this, but I won't be running any marathons this way in a hurry.

allure: powab

bump: wybój

crack: szczelina

ditch: pozbywać się

don: przywdziewać

momentum: rozmach, impet

propulsion: napęd

rave about: zachwycać się

wriggle: kręcić się, wiercić się

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