Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Runners

The best running shoes for forefoot runners are barefoot-style running shoes, such as the Vibram Five Fingers, because they enhance spatio-temporal characteristics at the foot, helping you land with a forefoot strike.

Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Runners

Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Runners

Spatio-temporal characteristics derive from having the ability to accurately sense the ground, also known as tactile sensation. Although, barefoot running is the best strategy to optimize the spatio-temporal characteristics that govern proper forefoot running biomechanics, barefoot-like running shoes are the next best thing, shown below.

Running Shoes Forefoot Strike


Another reason barefoot-like running shoes are the best type of running shoes for beginners of forefoot running is the absent cushioned heel.

  • Barefoot-like running shoes are flat, and the flatter the shoe, the less ankle dorsiflexion at touchdown during running.
  • Less ankle dorsiflexion decreases the likelihood of heel strike at initial contact and instead, encourages a forefoot strike.
Best running shoes for beginners
The stacked heel of the traditional running shoe faciliates high ankle dorsiflexion (forefoot pointed up) at touchdown thereby increasing heel strike potential.

The take home message is that there are 2 key features a running shoe must have for any forefoot striker, novice or experienced: 1. very minimalist cushioning, hence the term “barefoot-like” and 2. no cushioned heel.

In general, runners seem to land towards the heel when running in a well-cushioned shoe, even without a raised heel. In contrast, runners who run in barefoot or barefoot-like conditions seem to land further away from the heel which is necessary to reduce high peak impact forces at touchdown.

In contrast, runners who run in cushioned heeled running shoes heel strike because these shoes elicit higher ankle dorsiflexion and the cushioned material under the heel masks the high-impact force at heel strike

Forefoot running essentially replaces the protective effect of the traditional running shoe.

Traditional running shoes are only good for making heel strike running feel comfortable, but the high-impact nature of heel strike running deforms the cushioned material of a shoe relatively quick. When this happens, heel strike becomes intolerable. Forefoot strike runners don’t have this problem because forefoot running eliminates the pain caused by heel-ground contact.

And finally, for those who wish not to run barefoot, than barefoot-like running shoes are the universal substrate for the human foot because they serve the basis for maximizing an efficient foot strike pattern and running kinematics.

More From Run Forefoot:


Squadrone et al. Acute effect of different minimalist shoes on foot strike pattern and kinematics in rearfoot strikers during running. J Sports Sci, 2014; [0264-0414].pg:1

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

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P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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