1. How can using barefoot running shoes enhance my sports performance?
Barefoot running shoes provide the advantages of running barefoot, but with the added protection from the surface in which you run on. Zero heel elevation encourages midfoot to forefoot strike, which in turn ensures a shorter stride length and decreased collision forces. Further, barefoot running shoes strengthen your foot, ankle and lower leg muscles, as well as increasing coordination, proprioception and balance. As a result, sports performance will be enhanced through the abovementioned benefits, as well as decreasing your injury rate.
2. Are there any differences between actual barefoot running and barefoot running shoes?
The prominent differences between running truly barefoot and wearing barefoot running shoes, are the protection barefoot running shoes provide you with and the interrupted contact between the ground and your foot when wearing any footwear. Although barefoot running shoes endeavour to create the most intimate, but still protective, contact between the ground and your foot, the thin sole will still never be exactly the same as being completely unshod. However, having this layer does protect you from rubble and other damaging terrains you may encounter, which is something unachievable barefoot.
3. Which barefoot running shoe is best suited for me?
First, it is important to state that barefoot running is not for everyone. Although, by transitioning gradually and listening to your body's response like discussed in the Transitioning to Barefoot Running Shoes section, most individuals should adapt well and gain the benefits associated with barefoot running. With so many barefoot and minimalist running shoes on the market, choosing what's most ideal for you can be overwhelming. However, specifying (1) What will you be using your barefoot running shoes for? and (2) Where will you be using your barefoot running shoes? will assist your decision.
For example, if you are after a barefoot running shoe for the most truly barefoot-simulated experience, those mentioned in the Background section are your best choice. On the other hand, if you are looking to transition to barefoot running or still require orthotic inserts, minimalist shoes may be a more ideal option, as they offer a lower heel drop than the traditional running shoe, but still provide some structural support. Additionally, some barefoot running shoes have more flexible soles, which may be better suited to uneven terrain (on-road vs. off-road).
4. How much do barefoot running shoes cost?
Barefoot running shoes retail between ~AUS$80-$170.