One of the major benefits of barefoot running is that it can help flat feet grow taller and more spring-loaded. This is because being barefoot keeps the feet engaged at a high level which increases muscles activation and muscle tone throughout the foot, all of which are major perquisites for the midfoot muscles to build up the strength to uphold the arch and enables the arch to work more effectively as a spring and footstep stabilizer. Research on foot health as well as running mechanics hints that to sustainably strengthen the feet and develop higher arches, at the very least you should be walking barefoot as it engages the foot at the most highest level. Even better, running barefoot is also a fast entry point to reverse extreme flat feet as barefoot running involves a forefoot strike landing which encourages greater arch compression and extension which has known, fast-acting effects on boosting arch-height. Read more here on how barefooting and wearing minimalist shoes more often can fix flat feet.
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.