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Vivobarefoot Shoes - Minimalist and Natural Footware - A Review


TL;DR:


Although I find the Vivobarefoot shoes enjoyable and believe they offer some positive advantages, they are pricey, squeaky, and less durable compared to other more affordable shoes I have worn for a longer period of time.


Intro


I have been wearing Vivobarefoot shoes since Jan 2023. 


I wanted to see for myself the effects of minimalist shoes and how my body would respond to them. 


I bought the Geo Court III’s and I wear them every day at work and I also bought the Primus Trail Knit FG’s for outdoor running and trail running.


Here are some of Vivobarefoot’s latest model shots…





Mmmm yeah… really selling them there. 


Comfort and Durability


There is advice around ‘breaking yourself in’ when you first start wearing such shoes, especially if you wear heavily supportive shoes with soft insoles or supportive arches. But I found that given I don’t wear such things I felt quite comfortable straight away wearing my Vivos around work.


I was pleasantly surprised how good things felt when I started introducing my Primus shoes to my running in October 2023. It was very evident how much more feedback you get from the ground you are running on, a downside is that sometimes sharp stones or edges were uncomfortable. I also noticed how much more my calves had to work initially when getting used to them. But they’ve been through rain, puddles and thick mud and seem to be holding up.





The Geo Court III’s haven’t held up so well. I wear them far more frequently but the leather on the right foot seems to have gone hard and the inner sole has been wearing away the last few months. They’ve also squeaked a lot even from new which is a little annoying and especially on hard floors. But generally quite comfortable. 






Ultimately, if you find these shoes uncomfortable, it may be because your feet have gotten too used to lovely cushiony Uggs or something similar… 


Getting back to Nature


The fundamental idea of minimalist shoes is to allow your foot to do what comes naturally. 


Having less cushioning, padding and support in the shoe means your foot gets a lot more information and feedback from the ground underneath it. As well as giving your foot space to move and your toes to spread.


You might expect some physical changes to a foot in such a radically different shoe.. Here is what my feet looked like before I started wearing them to what they are like now after 15 months of wearing them. 



January 2023 




April 2024 


Not a huge amount of difference! 


But I think this has more to do with the fact I haven’t done any specific foot training. The shoe allows for normal function, but you still need to do something with them!  


And let's not forget that this is a still image. If I were able to capture live footage of my foot adapting to forces involved with running, jumping, hockey or acroyoga (for example!) before and after… there may well be differences. 


I’ve also not been wearing barefoot shoes for 33 years of my life, so 15 months isn’t going to make a huge sudden difference (at least in my foot’s appearance). 


Overall impressions and suggestions


I believe the Vivobarefoot shoes are doing me more good than harm. Giving my feet the space they need to function as normal as possible. I haven’t noticed any major functional drawbacks of the shoes, besides the squeakiness which is somewhat irritating!


I bought the shoes for around £140 each. You could probably get two pairs of Sketchers for less. I am disappointed in the wear of the Geo Court III’s considering this cost as I’ve had cheaper shoes that have lasted a lot longer. 


If you were ever considering buying Vivobarefoot shoes, it is worth noting what shoes you currently wear. If you rely on heavily supportive shoes with soft/spongy/memory foam insoles you will probably hate the Vivobarefoot shoes as they will be too uncomfortable initially hence ‘breaking yourself in’. If you already do a lot of walking, running, ‘foot-based’ activities then you’ll probably get on them better than if you haven’t.


I hope this provides some useful insight if you were thinking about looking into Vivobarefoot shoes.


Take Homes:


  • If you are used to wearing comfy supportive shoes, you may find Vivobarefoot shoes uncomfortable initially and may need a longer ‘breaking in’ period.

  • The Geo Court III shoes that I wear pretty much daily have shown signs of wear yet have had cheaper shoes that lasted a lot longer (many more years longer).

  • The Primus Trail Knit FG shoes I use for running I’ve really enjoyed wearing. They will make you think a lot about your running style as you put a lot more demand on your calves. 

  • They cost quite a lot more than an average shoe. Perhaps 2-3x as much in some cases. Unfortunately, the durability of the Geo Court III shoe doesn’t support the price IMO. 

  • The physical changes to my feet after 15 months is minimal. But I know there are most likely some bigger, more physiological, changes to my feet and legs that beneficially  affect how I move and feel. 


Thanks for reading

Nathan the Osteopath


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