How to Transition to Barefoot Shoes

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If you are not used to barefoot shoes, you’ll need to transition into wearing them. In other words, it requires a gradual adaptation. Your feet need conditioning and this takes a phased increase in duration and intensity of wear while active, as I explain…read on.

Transitioning to barefoot running shoes

New to barefoot running shoes? Don’t expect to buy a pair of barefoot runners and go straight into using them. Switching to minimalist running shoes requires conditioning of your feet and your leg muscles and for some, this could take weeks or even months of adaptation.

It depends on what you have done in the past and the shape of your feet. If you have concerns, check with your physiotherapist or health advisor.

By being gentle with yourself and allowing time for your body to adapt, you’ll get there. But at the same time, persevere and persist.

How To Transition From A Regular Sneaker To Minimalist Shoes

If you are not used to going barefoot, start at point 1, otherwise begin at point 3.

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes a day walking barefoot on the beach, on grassy areas, gravel paths, or where ever you have the opportunity, to get your feet conditioned.
  2. Gradually increase the duration until the soles thicken and your muscles and ligaments adapt (no strain felt).
  3. Once you reach this point, progress to jogging in barefoot runners, starting with 15-30 minutes a day.
  4. Bit by bit increase the intensity and duration of daily jogging in barefoot runners until you feel at home with running in your barefoot shoes.

Pick your terrains. Avoid spiky rocky country and wet and slippery areas when transitioning to barefoot running. (Such terrain is probably best transited with proper footwear or hiking boots anyway.)

Michael Warburton explains :

Thirty minutes of daily barefoot locomotion is a recommended starting point to allow thickening of the sole of the foot and adaptation of muscles and ligaments (Robbins et al., 1993). Begin by walking barefoot at every reasonable opportunity then progress to jogging, gradually increasing the intensity and duration (Yessis 2000, p.124).

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Bottom line

When you first start wearing minimalist shoes, it can take a few weeks before your body gets used to them. This is because your brain needs time to adjust to them; it will think that it’s still wearing regular sneakers. But stick with it. It will happen. The trick is to be patient, persist, and persevere—the three Ps.

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