Odd-Looking Footwear Feels Like Running Barefoot


Some people are swearing by strange-looking footwear designed to give you the feeling of running barefoot.

One brand, Vibrams Five Fingers, looks a little like gloves for feet, with separate compartments for each toe.

"What it does is it stretches out your feet, your toes," said Hamlin Jones, a running coach. "People have a hard time getting in them at first, because when we wear shoes, our feet are all scrunched together."

Those who love them say the shoes are the next best thing to going completely barefoot.

"What they do is, they help strengthen your ankles, help with balance and stability, and also help out with knees and your hips, which a lot of times, for runners, those are the problem areas," Jones said.

Daniel Howell, the author of "The Barefoot Book," said humans are born to run -- without shoes.

"Because a shoe is a cast, and you don't get to flex and twist and grasp -- your feet can't do that inside a shoe the way it can when you are barefoot," he said.

Dr. Kevin Myer, of Legacy Medical Village, said medical experts are debating the benefits and drawbacks of barefoot running. But he said he'd rather his patients wear shoes such as Five Fingers than no shoes at all.

"I think they are good for the fact that they do protect your feet from soft tissue injuries such as cuts and abrasions and things like that," he said. "So if you're going to wear them, or if you're going to wear straight barefooted, I think the key is, you really have got to slowly work your way into this."

Fans of the shoes say calves will get tight and hurt at first. They also agree with doctors in recommending that people ease into them if they decide to try them. 

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