Many of my patients have this same question.  The concept of training in a five finger shoe which gives the recipient a thin protection from their external environment but the convince of using the structure of the foot to their greatest advantage is quickly becoming popular and is viewed as a healthy way to train.

The foot is quite an amazing structure.  It allows horizontal forces from the ground to transition and ascend vertically up the body.  The foot is made up of a structural and adaptive part and is further broken down into a medial, lateral and transverse arch.  The structural foot accepts the weight of the body through the lateral arch or outside arch as the foot which contacts the ground and is made up by the heel, cuboid and 4th and 5th toes.  The adaptive foot is made up of the medial or inside arch composed of the talus, navicular, cuneiforms and 1st ,2nd ,3rd  toes and its job is to adaptive to the ground and unload the medial arch to accommodate the foot to the ground

A lot of people see something on T.V. or are told about it from their friends and decide to try it.   Now when you go from always wearing a training shoe or running shoe with a ridge heel counter, arch support and a lot of plastic between your foot and the ground without a prep period of training to condition the foot and an assessment by a physical therapist to find and clear the body of misalignment an injury is likely will be the result.

If you wish to take advantage of simulating training in a barefoot, consider having a trained physical therapist assess you before hand.  What must be cleared before beginning using this shoe are;  do you have enough mobility in your ankle and big toe.  You must be able to flex your foot 10 to 20 degrees at the ankle joint and extend your big toe 75-80 degrees to ensure your mechanics of your foot are health and able to accommodate to the demands of your weight and the axial loading of added forces with training.   The knee, hip, pelvis, spine and head should all be assessed and treated if any imbalances are present.  It is also advisable to correct any deficiencies in the inner or outer unit of the core, tight muscles or weak muscles, structural misalignment, lifestyle factors like hydration, diet and stress levels to ensure the body can handle the transition between a protective shoe to literally a covering device of the foot.

A slow progress is necessary to start off.  The foot needs time to adjust to using its full potential of muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and fascia.  As the foot is conditioned into a five finger shoe it increase the density of the bones especially in the foot, thickens the ligaments and tendons and fasica and increase the strength of the lower leg and foot muscles to allow for propulsion and deceleration.

Begin by using your five fingers during your warm up and cool down and using your usually training shoes during activity for the first few weeks.  Then progress into wearing them with 10mins increments week by week until you are using them through your entire workout.

For more information contact Ultimate Sports Therapy at or visit us at

Carolyn Zepf
osteopathy (current study) & Certified Sports Therapist, Keynote & Professional Speaker