Gloves for your feet. Sounds cozy, right?
Toe shoes, aka barefoot-style sneakers, have been a thing for a while now. Those who love them, LOVE them, while those who hate them, HATE them. There really does not seem to be much in between. (If you love toe shoes for running, you might like the Belleville Minimil boots – they are the closest thing you’ll find that resembles tactical toe shoes.)
However, if you are considering trying a pair, chances are you are on the fence and need some help deciding one way or the other. Well, you have come to the right place! What are the pros of barefoot-style running shoes? What are the cons?
Pros of Barefoot Shoes
Building New Muscles
Traditional running shoes necessitate that the mechanics of your feet operate in a certain way. When you remove the shape and support offered by traditional running shoes, the mechanics of your feet are forced to operate in a different way.
Now, this can be a bad thing (see cons) but it can also be a good thing. If you are able to strengthen new muscles, this could result in the ability to run faster, further, etc. However, please note, this must be done carefully (again, see below).
Wikipedia defines proprioception as: “the sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.”
In other words, this is the ability to sense and know your body’s position in relation to your surroundings. Toe shoes put your feet closer to their surroundings, allowing you to respond more quickly and effectively to changes in your running/walking surface. This ability to adapt can be a big help, especially in unfamiliar or rough terrain.
I may catch some flack for this, but I’ve got to speak my mind! I love how toe shoes look! Like I said, those who hate them really hate them. However, how many times have your running shoes sparked a conversation about health, fitness, body design, and lifestyle choices? If you wear toe shoes, your answer to that question would be all the time!
Cons of Toe Shoes
Building or Injuring New Muscles
As I mentioned above, toe shoes make the body use different muscles compared to traditional running shoes. But, like with any other time you are working muscles, the problem comes when you do too much, too fast.
When you first start wearing them, your body won’t be used to carrying you and moving your legs and feet in this new manner. If you train hardcore and then switch to toe shoes, you really need to take it slow. Give your body time to adjust and get used to them. You’ve been walking/running one way for your whole life; you can’t expect that to change in a few hours.
So do yourself (and your body) a favor. Avoid injury by dipping your toes (pun intended) into the world of barefoot-style running before jumping in headfirst. There are shoes out there that have a smaller heel drop (i.e. they aren’t as high at the heel) and can help you transition to toe shoes.
Lack of Cushion & Support
Since toe shoes are putting your feet more in touch with the ground, it follows that your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are going to have to deal with more of the shock. If the shoe isn’t going to do it, then your body will.
You’ll also feel the surface of the ground through the sole of the shoe. This means if you’re running on gravel or rough terrain, you may end up with bruises and sore spots on the bottoms of your feet.
Normally, you’d wear socks with your running shoes. However, this is more difficult to do with toe shoes. Most toe shoes are designed to be worn without socks (although you can find special toe socks designed for toe shoes). Therefore, your feet will be in direct contact with your toe shoes. No more smelly socks, just smelly shoes.
Should You Try Toe Shoes?
If you are thinking about trying toe shoes, the biggest consideration should be making sure you gradually transition from traditional running shoes to toe shoes. Give your body enough time to slowly adjust, little by little, to this new way of doing things.
With that in mind, give it a try! I own a pair that I really enjoy using. They might be a bit tricky to get on, but overall it’s a fun, new experience!
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.