Differences between barefoot shoes and traditional shoes

The popularity of shoeless footwear has been growing rapidly in recent years as more and more people discover the benefits of minimalist footwear. Shoeless footwear uses a different approach to design than traditional footwear, aimed at providing a more natural and comfortable use. In this publication, we highlight the key differences between shoeless footwear and traditional footwear.

Wide toe box

Barefoot shoes are made with a wide front part, allowing your toes to reside in the footwear naturally and without compression. Such a design promotes natural toe splaying and reduces the risk of foot problems such as bunions (hallux valgus deformity), hammer toes and neuromas. Traditional footwear has a narrow toe box that compresses the toes and over time leads to various foot problems. Moreover, a narrow toe box in shoes causes a shift of the center of mass from the big toe to the metatarsal head, disrupting body balance, increasing injury risk and adversely affecting foot health.

Zero drop

Barefoot shoes have a flat sole, allowing the heels and front of the foot to be at the same level. Such a natural foot position promotes healthy biomechanics of walking and running, as it encourages you to land on the middle or front of the foot with each step instead of the heel. Such proper horizontal foot position promotes even weight distribution across them. This can help prevent various foot pathologies, including flat feet. Traditional footwear, in turn, almost always has a heel that allows excessive heel striking with each step and stimulates improper biomechanics that increases the risk of injury.

Flexible and thin sole

One of the most noticeable differences between barefoot shoes and traditional footwear is the thickness and flexibility of the sole. Barefoot shoes have a thin, flexible sole that allows the feet to move and bend freely. This promotes the natural work of the feet and stimulates strengthening of their muscles. Traditional footwear often has a thick and rigid sole, limiting feet mobility and over time leading to their weakness.

Anatomical shape

From heel to toe, the shape of barefoot shoes is designed based on the natural shape of the feet, allowing them to rest in barefoot shoes in a natural position without limiting their anatomical structure. It also improves blood circulation and prevents compression of nerves and blood vessels. Traditional footwear often does not account for the natural foot shape, which can lead to discomfort and many long-term health issues of the feet.

Light weight

Due to its minimalist design and use of lightweight materials, barefoot shoes are lighter than traditional footwear. A lightweight construction helps reduce stress on feet and legs, making barefoot shoes more comfortable than ordinary footwear for extended wearing. Traditional footwear can be quite heavy, contributing to fatigue and discomfort, especially during long walks or runs.


The concept of barefoot shoes offers a unique approach to footwear design, focusing on promoting natural foot movement, comfort and long-term foot health. Through a flexible thin sole, lack of heels, wide toe box, lightweight construction and anatomical shape, barefoot shoes allow your feet to function as intended by nature.

If you plan to transition to barefoot shoes, be sure to give your body time to adapt to it. Start with short walks or runs and gradually increase duration and intensity as your feet strengthen and get used to barefoot shoes.