Just watch how kids race down a beach or run along the street – their technique is perfect! How kids run:

  • nice upright posture with knees under hips under shoulders
  • lots of short steps – no long strides or landing on their heels
  • relaxed! Kids are laughing and playing when they run – and they don’t get injured!

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for us grown-ups and how (many) of us run.

So what happens to all the amazing natural running technique most of us are lucky enough to be born with?

More and more evidence points to the detrimental effect normal shoes might be playing in wrecking how we run.

A recent study published in Nature magazine concludes that cushioned running shoes actually increase the ‘impact loading’ on a (fit adult) body when running. The study concludes this impact loading leads to a stiffer leg during landing and thus may explain why shoes with more cushioning do not protect against impact-related running injuries.

So if maximalist, cushioned running shoes might actually make us MORE likely to sustain injuries during running… what’s going on?

At VivoKids we believe keeping kids barefoot – or as close to barefoot as possible – is a great way to maintain the natural running technique we’re born with.

There are several studies comparing the feet of kids who grow up regularly wearing shoes and those that don’t, and kids who grow up regularly unshod have stronger, wider feet (associated with fewer foot injuries) and, in one study, presented with fewer flat feet, again, another indicator for overall foot heath.

Another recent study from two universities in South Africa and Germany also found kids who are regularly barefoot (the South African kids) scored better on balance and motor skills than their shod counterparts in Germany.

Runners in East Africa don’t wear shoes until their teens. Kids learning rugby in New Zealand and South Africa stay barefoot until their teens too. So are Brazilian kids playing football. And kids learning martial arts – where balance and foot skills are vital – are barefoot all over the world. It makes sense!!!!

We believe that kids who grow up MOVING – walking, playing, climbing, dancing and running – barefoot have the best chance of keeping up the physicality, skill, balance and strength that comes when small feet grow free of traditional – stiff, narrow, rigid – shoes.

And in our increasingly sedentary world of sitting and screens, raising physically capable and active kids is more important than ever.

So help your kids be as barefoot as possible and, for when going without shoes really isn’t realistic, make their shoes minimalist: THIN, WIDE and BENDY so feet grow as close to barefoot as possible!


Maximalist running shoes effects on impact:


Fore-foot strike gait and barefoot running:


Study of South African and German teenagers:


Belgian university study on Indian kids shod/unshod:


New Zealand kids:


South African rugby:


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