Fitness: Minimalist running shoes

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

Most runners know that all the bells and whistles money can buy won't get them to the finish line faster. According to a new movement, cushioned soles won't either.

The Barefoot Runners Society, founded in 2009, runs under the philosophy that jogging au natural or with shoes that mimic being barefoot improves form and reduces injury.

Supporters of the minimalist style also point to author Christopher McDougall's book "Born to Run," which profiles members of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who run uber-long distances in sandals that would make your mama's athletic coaches cringe.

Even science is taking note: Harvard University has a lab studying the biomechanics of running without shoes (follow the research at

Whether you're looking for birthday suit-simulated kicks or just a pair made from a lightweight material, here are three running shoe styles that hearken back to the basics.

FiveFingers Bikila by Vibram


Despite the initial WTF elicitation (not unlike when you saw your first pair of Crocs), FiveFingers are catching on. These rubber shoes fit like gloves to the feet, offering minimal padding but the traction and protection of a tennis shoe.

Evo byVivobarefoot


The ultra-thin sole of Vivobarefoot's styles, designed to simulate barefoot running, is puncture resistant and can flexibly handle multiple types of terrain.

newSKY by New Balance


New Balance released this line last month. They make the lightweight newSKY shoes out of recycled materials. An average pair saves eight post-consumer plastic bottles from sitting in a landfill.