The Best Original Running Shoe Reviewed - Running Sandals

Michael DallyView post →

Running sandals are an ancient and proven solution for runners of all applications. The freedom of running in sandals with the wind between one's toes is a very primal and freeing experience. It’s difficult for modern runners to realize that sandals (at least in warmer climates) were quite possibly the original running shoe. The ancient Romans utilized sandals almost exclusively and there are records going back even farther to the ancient Greeks and beyond. In North America sandals suited for running have been worn for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Earth Runners Sandals: The Primal Freedom of Adventure

secure minimalist sandals
enhanced proprioception
body earth grounding connection

Running Sandals Showcase The Inherent Capabilities of Human Feet

toe extension in running sandals

The Tarahumara of northern Mexico are world-renowned for their superhuman running. Perhaps the most famous ultramarathoners, their name literally means "Running People." The Tarahumaras can cover 100+ miles in just a few days, all while wearing traditional huarache sandals. 

The ancient huarache running sandal is composed of a thin, flexible, zero-drop sole, and a seemingly simple–yet strategically designed–lacing system to secure the foot to the sole. This style of running sandal provides protection underfoot, without impeding on the foot's natural range of motion.

Running Sandals Reawaken our Innate Sense for Efficient Form

Running in minimalist sandals increases proprioceptive awareness which helps to create sure footing. Exercising in running sandals uses less assistive technology and creates more stimulation of the body as a whole, which can lead to a more efficient and holistic workout. Modern athletic shoes for the most part cause the lower body to atrophy by preventing the natural movement of the foot and deadening proprioception.


Ancient Running Sandals -vs- Earth Runners -vs- Running Shoes

ancient runner sandals earth runners sandals design


While traditional running shoes stifle & restrict natural movement causing underutilized, immobile, and weak lower extremities, a natural outcome of regularly wearing running sandals are strengthened and mobile lower extremities—including the toes, feet, ankles, and knees.

Earth Runners running sandals are inspired by the ancient Huarache running sandal design, which feature an open toe box, allowing for full range of motion of the toes and splaying of the forefoot. They feature a zero drop (completely flat from toe to heel) minimalist running sandal sole which allows for the development of normal achilles tendon length, function, and power.

Conventional running shoes have thick, elevated, and cushioned heels which promote heel-striking. This creates more impact and damage to the knees and other biomechanics further upstream in the body. Zero-drop running sandals on the other hand, promote proper running form, healthier connective tissue and bones, along with a more efficient gait cycle.

In addition to more efficient running gait, running sandals also encourage higher cadence. The minimal upper of a running sandal–just a strap–along with the extreme flexibility of minimalist running sandal soles facilitates a healthier cadence. Compared to long running strides (low cadence), high cadence (more frequent steps) reduces stress on the body and lowers chance of injury.   

strike of impact forefoot vs heel strike

  green elemental lightweight minimalist water sandal
  • PrimalElemental Sandal
  • Weight: 5.5 oz
  • Thickness: 6.5mm base + 1.5mm tread = 8mm
  • Sole: Vibram® Gumlite Outsole
  • Footbed: None
circadian lightweight running minimalist sandal
  • ChronosCircadian Sandal
  • Weight: 5.9 oz
  • Thickness: 9mm = 7.5mm base + 1.5mm tread
  • Sole: Vibram® Gumlite Outsole
  • Footbed: Earth Grip
alpha grip traction minimalist sandal
  • Alpha Sandal
  • Weight: 5.2 oz
  • Thickness: 12mm = 10mm base + 2mm tread
  • Sole: Vibram® Morflex Outsole
  • Footbed: Earth Grip

Are Earth Runners just running sandals?

While Earth Runners sandals have been used to traverse long distances, from 5k's to ultra-marathon, we like to think of them as sandals that allow you to truly be free -- footwear in which you can run, walk, hike, play and adventure while remaining connected to the earth.

trail running sandals
Trail ready light weight cushioned sole
barefoot running sandals
Ultimate barefoot traction running sandal

Pikes Peak Ultra in Earth Runners Sandals

Michael DallyView post →

mountain running sandals at pikes peak ultra Colorado

The Pikes Peak 50k Ultra held in Colorado Springs, CO felt like the best place to put our new mountain running sandal prototype, called Cadence, to the test. This high elevation ultramarathon started and ended at 6,200ft, peaking at 11,500ft. With a 9,000ft elevation gain and a variety of forest and rocky terrain, the Pikes Peak 50k Ultra was the perfect testing ground for our new barefoot running sandals, Cadence.

The Cadence barefoot running sandals feature our eco cotton Earth Grip footbed which has great sweat-wicking and traction abilities. In extreme endurance events like this, your sandals are sure to get drenched in sweat and likely to become submerged underwater. As the footbed gets wet, its composition pulls the moisture away from the foot and into the cotton canvas membrane, helping to preserve traction. Given the lack of moisture accumulating and pooling under the foot, traction to the mild textured cotton canvas is maintained in both wet and dry conditions. Two thumbs up for the sweat-wicking and amphibious traction of these mountain running sandals!

Our new Cadence sandals will be the first of the Earth Runners barefoot running sandals lineup to have a midsole, which offers high shock-absorption and resiliency at a low weight. The Cadence sandals also feature a new high performance Vibram outsole with Megagrip designed to grip to slick and wet surfaces. You'll have to stay tuned for the launch of these new minimalist adventure sandals to learn more– prepare yourself for a minimalist and responsive sole that offers all the traction and protection you need for your bigger adventures.

The Pikes Peak Ultra was created to showcase some of the very best trails in Colorado Springs. The course started at Bear Creek Regional Park, and traveled up into Cheyenne Canon. Sights from the trail including Seven Bridges, St. Mary's Falls, Helen Hunt Falls, Mt. Rosa, can be viewed in our video of the race above! The Cadence mountain running sandals made it up and over these steep grades while maintaining foot security, comfort, and barefoot running sandal foot freedom.

The race was a nice taste of Colorado and the Cadence mountain running sandals responded well to everything the trail called for. As for any ultra race, these long miles push the body to the limits, which helps to amplify any shortcomings in preparation and gear. We find first-hand testing in these mountain running sandal extremes to be pertinent for due diligence. It is experiences like this that help further our development in designing the best possible barefoot running sandals– sandals that we are stoked to share with the world!

Per usual, people were dumbfounded to see a contestant running in sandals: one fellow runner shared his astonishment at my ability to run well in sandals on such rugged terrain. Other gear included the Ultimate Direction Hydration vest and a GoPro7.

mountain running sandals at pikes peak ultra Colorado

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Chi Running: Proper Barefoot Form - Forefoot Running

Aimee CoustierView post →

Scientists estimate that humans evolved to run on two feet approximately 2 million years ago. Running would have been a skill crucial to survival... So then, if our bodies evolved to run, why are up to 79% of modern day runners injured each year?

We are going to break down the strong influence modern running shoes have on your form, and how minimal footwear can lead to a more natural form with lower incidence of injury.

View post →

Transitioning to Minimalist Footwear

Michael DallyView post →
Interested in minimalist footwear but not sure where to start or afraid of injury?

Just like any of our lost primal skills, it takes time and patience to re-develop the skills, muscles and biomechanics (a fancy word for how your body moves) to get back to your body’s original design. Keep reading for a primer in the advantages of and transitioning to minimalist footwear.

Advantages of Minimalist Footwear

Running, walking and living barefoot or in minimal footwear is ideal, yet many people are far from it. Years of wearing heavily cushioned shoes with high heel to toe drop have weakened our feet and altered our body mechanics, training us to rely on our shoes to absorb impact in lieu of our lower leg muscles. Hip alignment Minimalist footwear postureis thrown off, causing lower back, knee and foot issues. (see image right) Beyond that, the human body has become less able to thrive and be useful in the world it was created to live in. This was all brought about by “well-meaning” doctors and companies who do not have enough faith in the human body’s ability to adapt, repair and be all around resilient. Thus, overprotective footwear ends up causing or reinforcing many of the issues it is designed to protect us from.

No matter where you are on a scale from ultra-runner to doctor prescribed inserts, it’s not too late to transition to minimal footwear.

 Convinced? Here’s How To Get Started

First off, slow and steady wins the race. Undoing years of altered movement cannot be done overnight. It takes time to re-develop the lower leg and foot muscles and biomechanics needed to wear minimalist footwear.

  • Start Small: Begin by walking barefoot around your house or in your backyard.
  • Listen to Your Body: If your feet are not used to being free, they will probably be sore along with your calves. If they are, give them a break (i.e. put your shoes back on), then start going barefoot again when the soreness goes away. This soreness is your muscles and tendons getting stronger to better be as nature intended. Rest and stretching helps them recover.
  • Increase Foot Freedom: As your feet and lower legs get stronger, increase your barefoot time and invest in some minimalist footwear, the Earth Runners Alpha are a great option with a little more cushioning, allowing you to venture outside without fear of rocks etc. Continue to increase times and mileage with your feet free.
Developing Proper Biomechanics

Since there is no longer an inch or so of cushion between you and the ground, good biomechanics is very important to injury prevention and overall enjoyment.

  • Most people walk and run with a heel strike. This is an adaptation to wearing padded shoes with a lifted heel (⅛-½”).  Heel striking relies on the shoe to absorb shock instead of the lower leg muscles. Walking and running barefoot while still heel striking will force your bones and joints to absorb the shock, resulting in foot, knee and lower back pain.

  • Practice walking then running with a forefoot or mid-foot strike. This walking and running style uses your foot and lower leg muscles as shock absorbers. Again take things slow, allowing soreness to heal between sessions. The below video is a good example of good barefoot running foot strike. You can even video yourself to compare. Everyone's stride is unique so focus more on striking in a way that feels natural to you.

Now, get outside to free your feet a take the first step toward transitioning to minimalist footwear!

Keep eyes out for the next artical where we will get a little more technical with some stretches and movements to help you enjoy your new found foot freedom more and return your body back to it’s natural design.

Author: Curtis Hall is the Co-Founder and Head Creative at BAREfit Adventure Training, a fitness company based out of Louisville, Ky. BAREfit uses all upcycled and handmade equipment to train people to Make the World Their Playground.

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Barefoot Running: 5 Tips for Getting Started

Michael DallyView post →

Barefoot running is becoming an ever increasingly popular activity amongst experienced runners and beginners alike. It has been credited for preventing most common running related injuries, strengthening weak muscles caused by shoe induced atrophy, and raising awareness of the capabilities of our body in its natural unhindered state. Many are enthusiastically joining the movement and leaving their running shoes behind when they head out for their regular training runs, however the results are not usually what they were expecting.

Unfortunately, injuries amongst those new to barefoot/minimal running are an all too common complaint, causing many to shy away from barefoot running again after recovering, or preventing them from being able to run again at all. Nearly all of the injuries and painful moments of barefoot running are due to lack of proper preparation and adaptation. Though I feel that it's not necessary to hang up your running footwear for good and completely convert to barefoot running, if you haven't experienced the benefits and the natural minimalistic joy of running in its purest form then you're missing out!

Try these 5 simple tips so that you can successfully enjoy the benefits of barefoot running injury-free for years to come.

Start Running in More Minimal Running Footwear

Running in a thinner soled, lightweight shoe with less of a heel will promote a more mid-foot landing similar to how your foot lands when running without shoes. There are many "natural" running shoes out on the market today that are an excellent tool for transitioning to barefoot running, while still getting the cushioning, grip, and protection to keep you happily running for miles. When I want to experience most of the joy and benefits of running barefoot but need a little protection, then I prefer the modern take on the ancient huarache running sandal design of Earth Runners. They offer a securely-laced minimal sole and feature a unique electrical grounding system. It’s also great to know that my contribution is helping the Tarahumara as a part of the company’s donation to the True Messages.

Go Barefoot More Often

Try being barefoot as often as you can to help you more quickly adapt to being barefoot.

We spend most of our lives in shoes or footwear of some kind so it will take a while for our feet, body, and brain to adjust to the new movements of your muscles when barefoot. The more you can be barefoot when not running, the easier barefoot running will be. If you usually wear shoes or slippers around the house try taking them off, go walking without shoes, try a short hikes without shoes, then progress to longer ones, play other sports without shoes like beach volley ball, frisbee, gymnastics, strength training and balancing exercises. Get back into your natural state of living, not just running!

Run on Soft Surfaces

This is especially important when first starting out. Running on soft surfaces such as grass, sand, or smooth trails will lessen the impact on your joints and muscles that you may be experiencing without the thick cushioning that most running shoes have. The soft surface will be much more forgiving, allowing you to run longer and adapt to barefoot running quicker.

Keep Your Runs Short

Running for short periods of time barefoot will help you adapt to it without the risk of over-use injuries or too much impact on your joints causing soreness. You can try running 2 or 3 times per day for only 5-10 minutes or so, giving you a higher total time/distance for the day, without the physical damage that happens from only one longer run. By slowly and consistently increasing the amount of time you run, you'll be able to painlessly transition into barefoot running for longer distances.

Cross Training

Doing other activities to improve your strength, balance, stability, and endurance will transfer over to barefoot running making you a stronger runner less prone to injury. Strength training can help equalize muscle imbalances, and decrease fatigue by improving muscle strength and endurance. Balancing exercises like slacklining, box jumps, and other sports are all great ways to improve foot, ankle, leg and core strength needed for barefoot running. Do these activities barefoot if you can as I mentioned in Tip #2. Better balance will also help you run over uneven surfaces and on challenging terrain with more confidence.

Using these tips will give you a much easier and safer transition to bare foot running. You will gain better form and become a stronger runner and a better all around athlete. If you have any questions about barefoot running or are interested in coaching to become a better runner and a fitter, healthier person then please contact me. If you have any barefoot running tips of your own that you would like to share please leave a comment!


Kevin Park CPT

Kevin Park is a certified personal trainer specializing in natural movement, a natural lifestyle mentor, a long-term raw vegan, a runner, a bike racer, and a nature lover. His passion in life is to help people discover their natural wild bodies and achieve optimal health and wellness. He loves trail running with his dog, eating tropical fruits, reading good books, researching, and traveling with his partner.