Barefoot FAQ's

Vivobarefoot started off as a sub-brand of Terra Plana. In 2012 it was launched as a stand alone brand. Since then we’ve sold over a million pairs of shoes across the world and are currently growing at 30% a year, but we’re here to take on the big guys, and with this years successful crowdfunding campaign, we will ramp up our project to change an out-of-date, out-of-shape shoe industry. 

We’re on a quest to bring healthy feet back to the world.

We offer the widest range of 100% barefoot shoes in the market; for kids and adults, with a sole for every terrain. Only VIVOBAREFOOT shoes are made with our patented, puncture resistant sole, that lets your feet move naturally, with protection from elements underfoot.

We are committed to weaving sustainable practices into everything we do and to verify this we are now working with Made By, an award-winning European not-for-profit organisation, acting to improve environmental and social conditions within the fashion industry, with the use of their online tool, the Mode Tracker.

MODE Tracker is a holistic, transparent and verified progress tracking tool to support fashion brands and retailers in improving their sustainability performance through measuring and communicating year-on-year progress. You can find out more here.

Indigenous shoe making is barefoot shoe making. The original Shoes were invented for two things: protection and warmth – that’s it! There are still indigenous cobblers around the world making shoes as they have done for thousands of years, for themselves, for their community, for their feet.

VIVOBAREFOOT are working with, and learning from, two groups from India, the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the Saami from Northern Finland.

Limited edition indigenous products will be available in late 2016.

Going forward, we will continue to work alongside indigenous cobblers, to unlearn everything we’ve been taught by the modern shoe industry, take on the ancient crafting techniques of our ancestors, with the goal of making the perfect shoe: perfect for feet.

Natural foot-function is the foundation of efficient, injury-free movement. Conversely, un-natural, compromised foot function is often the root cause of movement related pain.

There are 3 types of foot shape; Natural foot-shaped Foot, slightly Shoe-shaped foot, and the medically diagnosed Flat-foot or Fallen Arch.* If you have one of the first two then we recommend that you get your walking technique correct by engaging your big toes and reawakening the muscle, tendons and nerve receptors in your feet before you start running a lot.

Usual rules apply: too much too soon will lead to soreness and pain. Click here to find out more.

*If you have a medically diagnosed FLAT-FOOT or FALLEN-ARCH, a history of trauma, have had surgical intervention or wear corrective orthotic footwear, the function and anatomy of the foot is compromised. We therefore recommend that your transition to ‘barefoot’ should be supervised by a medical professional.

Barefoot populations run around on hard baked earth (just as hard as concrete today) and studies done on Indian rickshaw pullers (running around barefoot on hard cobbles) found them to have almost perfect feet, (3% problems) compared to shod populations.

Further studies by Mezernich show that walking around in padded shoes in a concrete world actually dumbs down the part of our brain designed to get vital information from our feet – leading to brain atrophy and linked to early onset Alzheimers.

See Frequently Repeated Answers below.

'No arches' does not necessarily mean a problem. Strong, healthy feet have dynamic arches - giving support makes arches lazy.

A healthy foot has a dynamic flexible arch that loads and unloads through the movement gait. Maybe you have a strong natural foot?

First of all – if you are a happy mover and never feel any pain – then we would say, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!”

But, 80% of heel strikers get injured every year.  At least double the injury rates of forefoot strikers.

You were designed to run long distances into your late sixties and re-basing your walking and running technique will only help happy healthy movement into old age. Usual rules apply – too much too soon can result in pain and injury.  Take it easy and Walk Before you Run!

To maintaim strength and flexibility in your ankles and feet.

If your ankles are not flexible enough to get your knees over your toes, then you should not attempt barefoot running (as the ankles flexibility is key to shock absorption in the barefoot running style).

Learn to squat (bum on heels) with feet on the ground - before you attempt barefoot running.

Vivobarefoot shoes have a patented, ultra thin, puncture-resistant sole.

You can - it's just harder; less proprioception, less skill.

See Frequently Requested Answers below.


For extreme endurance athletes a firmer insole or rock plate can be recommended but in the end it is always about proprioception and technqiue.

See Frequently Repeated Answers below.


We live in a relative world. If you are one of the few people living in the Western world who still has truly natural feet – then we’d love to check them out… send us an email with a photo and would be great to try to find a footwear solution with you.

For the vast majority of people our shoes give an opportunity to improve the natural state of their feet… and by walking around every day in flat, wide and thin soled shoes gravity will do it’s thing and your feet will become stronger, more stable and more sensory – the foundation of healthy natural movement.


People often write in to say our shoes are getting narrower but the fact is that peoples feet are getting stronger and healthier from wearing minimal and barefoot shoes. We can categorically assure you that our shoes are only getting more natural as we try to keep up with peoples improving feet.

We would recommend that if you have a pre-existing medical condition it is wise to see a medical professional - where are you based and we might be able to recommend someone local who is also barefoot savvy!?

In general, the answer to your question is yes - but you need to be prepared to put in the re-hab work around squatting and toe-ga.

See Frequently Repeated Answers below.

Our early ancestors fashioned basic foot coverings for protection from puncture and the elements, but that’s it! Somewhere along the line, status and fashion took over and the natural 'foot shaped foot' became the unfashionable foot.

Most of us live in a modern world now where cities are full of both unnatural obstacles and festering muck that you wouldn’t want finding its way between your toes. It’s also pretty cold if you don’t live on the equator and even then equator it can get very hot underfoot. 

We make shoes with ancient wisdom and modern technology, the link between the benefits of healthy foot function and the protection afforded by normal shoes. We think they look good too!

Since the birth of jogging in the 1960s, the footwear industry has relied on hot air and padded marketing ideas. The biggest shoe companies in the world have the consumer believing that shoes should support the arch and cushion the heel; but a growing army of biomechanics and scientists are realising the truth, actually we think the consumerisready.

The truth is modern shoes overly cushion and squeeze an already perfectly good piece of walking and running kit—your feet!

Simply put: shoes should let your feet do their thing. Find out more of the Science here.

If you are interested in learning to transition to barefoot running, please click here to find out how to book a coaching session in our London store. (Bookable through the UK site only)

  • The body has all the shock absorbing and motion control technology you’ll ever need (just ask any animal)
  • All injury and pain is due to lack of skill in using this technology.
  • Provide the brain with accurate sensory feedback and it will take care of you.

It’s vital to let kids feet thrive naturally, as a child’s foot is not fully formed until late teenage years. Anything that gets in the way of natural foot development, like non-foot shaped shoes, can result in deformed, weak feet. 

Natural, healthy movement is at the core of our kids range. Every shoe allows freedom for the feet, the right amount of sensory feedback, along with adequate protection, ensuring a child's foot can grow as nature intended. If you want to read more, click here.

Spring 2016 will see the launch of our First Walkers Collection, starting at an EU size 20. In the Autumn, we’ll launch Winterproof Kids, to cater for our growing, global market.

We are committed to developing our kids range, with the end goal of provide a comprehensive range of barefoot shoes for growing feet, right through to adulthood. As Vivobarefoot grows, so will our range of sizes/styles.

Natural moement starts with the feet.

The big toe or 'Great Toe' is our body's natural anchor and pivot. Healthy toes are vital for healthy feet, which are vital for healthy, natural movement. A study, carried out by Scientists in Taiwan, (Chou et al 2008) suggests that even the smallest of restrictions on our big toe can have an impact on our balance and fine motor skills.  

By following our Toe-ga exercises should be performed daily to improve mobility, flexibility and strength in the ankle, feet and toes. Do them twice a day if possible and give yourself 5–10 minutes to complete the exercises, the longer the better. Daily Toe-ga strengthens your toes and helps the mobility in your arch and ankles, to help your feet gain strength and mobility needed to move as nature intended. Every shoe we make is flat & wide and thin & flexible and designed to let your feet do its thing

To read more on Toe-Ga, click here to find the exercises you'll need to practice.

If you are new to wearing VIVOBAREFOOT shoes we’d recommend walking before you run and transitioning gradually. It might feel unusual at first, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Like any training programme, it takes time to adjust to barefoot movement. You may have sore calves and feet to begin with but this is just the feeling of waking muscles up that may not have had a proper workout in years.

We’d recommend starting slowly; being barefoot where possible and wearing VIVOBAREFOOT shoes for short periods of walking. Your brain will start to adapt quickly and your body will also begin to change too. We’d recommend regularly doing toe exercises, little and often. In time you should get stronger feet, increased ankle mobility, improved posture and better balance and a new found sense of connection with the ground.

We have lots more information on natural movement here.

If you have a medical history of injury and pain with compromised foot function, you might find the transition process more difficult than others. 

You have probably been wearing conventional shoes and or corrective footwear or orthotics for quite some time. If this is the case, the function and anatomy of the foot is likely to be compromised and therefore we recommend that your transition to ‘barefoot’ should be supervised by a medical professional.

We strongly suggest you start by using our shoes for everything except long walks and running. For this, please refer to our Everyday collection of shoes.

Born to Run is an independent education business owned and run by Lee Saxby.  Vivobarefoot helped set it up by transferring the assets from the Training Clinic to Born to Run.  Vivobarefoot are happy to have Born to Run as the preferred education partner and Lee Saxby as a consultant to the brand advising on bio-mechanics and helping create Edu-tainment content.

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