Make your own shoes or maybe even go barefoot?

Cover Nature
There’s a (r)evolution in the world of running it seems, many runners are tossing their expensive cushiony running shoes and opting for barefoot’ing it, running in sandals, flats and some are just making their own shoes (our favorite!). We’ve covered many DIY shoe making projects and it’s interesting to see this new trend shoe-less trend backed with some pretty serious research. The latest issue of Nature just dropped in my mailbox, I think the full article will be online at some point, but here are some excerpts, sites and more…

Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s. For most of human evolutionary history, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes. We wondered how runners coped with the impact caused by the foot colliding with the ground before the invention of the modern shoe. Here we show that habitually barefoot endurance runners often land on the fore-foot (fore-foot strike) before bringing down the heel, but they sometimes land with a flat foot (mid-foot strike) or, less often, on the heel (rear-foot strike). In contrast, habitually shod runners mostly rear-foot strike, facilitated by the elevated and cushioned heel of the modern running shoe. Kinematic and kinetic analyses show that even on hard surfaces, barefoot runners who fore-foot strike generate smaller collision forces than shod rear-foot strikers. This difference results primarily from a more plantarflexed foot at landing and more ankle compliance during impact, decreasing the effective mass of the body that collides with the ground. Fore-foot- and mid-foot-strike gaits were probably more common when humans ran barefoot or in minimal shoes, and may protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact-related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners.

Running barefoot is better, researchers find…

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Running Barefoot or In Minimal Footwear.

On to the DIY shoe making…

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HOW TO – Make sandals made from old tires.

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MAKE 10 – Tire Sandals.

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How To Make Duct Tape Sandals.

Homemade Fabric Flip-Flops

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DIY instructions on how to make huarache running sandals of the Tarahumara Indians…

How to Make Moccasins

Thoughts? Post up in the comments! Any makers out there like to run (and do fun things with the data?)…

18 thoughts on “Make your own shoes or maybe even go barefoot?

  1. Interesting stuff, but running barefoot is something I can only dream of, considering my flatter than flat feet. I envy the arched ones. Anyone else in my boat?

    1. I had supposedly the opposite problem, very high arches. A friend of mine has been running with minimal shoes now for a while, and has flat feet. I would expect that starting small and building up would actually help strengthen the your under-foot muscles that keep your arch in shape. Wearing support is only letting those muscles atrophy.

  2. once i only ran in shoes that didn’t support my feet or arches (arches are stronger with support it seems) – i was able to run faster, further and better. i’d say try some flat shoes, make your own :) and try running, your own feet won’t let you hurt yourself – good way to rebuild and restart.

  3. I would love nothing more than for there to be an article in the next MAKE about building your own sneakers from the ground up (pun not intended).

  4. How about spray-on shoes? They never come off! ;)

    But yeah, it makes sense in a way, that running barefoot (or with something thin to protect your soles from sharp objects) would be better. That’s the way we were designed/evolved, after all.

    1. Technically rocket shoes would be the best of all.

      It seems to me that the extra cushioning just allows people to run in a lazier, less careful, more impactful (heel first) gait. I’d have thought it’s possible for professional athletes deliberately adapt their gait to the balls of the feet position and get the best of both worlds.

      I certainly think that broken glass proof shoes are one of those technologies that are here to stay.

  5. I have been running barefoot for over a year now. My knee pain has all but disappeared and I am able to get out and run at least three times a week now. Previously I was down to twice a week and only on grass at a park. Now I’m doing 15K a week on pavement. I wore a pair of homemade huaraches this winter when there was a lot of ice on the roads. It was nice to not have my feet stick to the pavement while waiting at stoplights. I’m glad to see barefoot running getting some favorable press. Maybe now I won’t be getting so many funny looks.

  6. Making your own sandals from old lyres is so cool. I do recall the “tread” sandal of the 70″s. These were so strong and robust. I just don’t know what I did with mine. I am sure if I had kept them I would still be wearing them today.


  7. A way to do it is with socks and shoe goo on the bottom…it fits like a glove and no funny pichning on the toes or the heel (leaves alot to be desired by way of looks though)!

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