There are plenty of health and performance optimisation trends at the moment; from Testosterone support, unique athletics greens alternatives and CBD products. But, there is one we've just come across recently that took youtube by storm about three years ago - barefoot shoes.
Barefoot shoes have grown exponentially in popularity, and there is a growing community of people who swear by these shoes and the reported benefits to foot strength and performance enhancement.
The biggest of all of the barefoot shoe brands is Vivobarefoot, so we wanted to take a look at their shoes, what are the benefits, and our experience in them over a month. Let's get into our Vivobarefoot review!
Who are Vivobarefoot & Why Would You Buy Their Shoes?
Vivobarefoot is now one of the biggest barefoot show brands across the UK, even though there are plenty of rivals now. The brand was established in 2012 by Galahad and Asher Clark, who are two cousins from the Clarks dynasty (Clarks the Shoe Shop - the very same UK high street staple). They started their journey with another inventor (Tim Brennon) who started to explore a potential fix to injuries he was experiencing while playing tennis (rolled ankles and a bad back).
The brand set out to try to establish a human connection to their feet and produced a wide shoe with an extremely thin sole which went the opposite of most other sports shoes.
They found themselves at the forefront of the barefoot revolution in fitness (inspired by barefoot legend Chris McDougall), where many sports professionals started to see the benefits of barefoot training. It strengthens the foot naturally (some studies report up to 60% stronger) which eventually gave way to better posture, less back pain and a greater connectivity to either.
Vivobarefoot, compared to its rivals, offers the widest range of barefoot shoe types; from the Original Premus sports shoe, now to the Novus fashion shoe and even hiking boots.
Our Vivobarefoot Review (Magna Trail & Novus Mid)
There are plenty of Vivobarefoot reviews so we wanted to write one of our own, from the perspective of complete novices. Personally, our interest in the shoes was not anything to do with barefoot and we didn't know anything about the community. The interest came from the fact that there was a need for some new shoes, and Vivobarefoot looked really cool.
This will give you an insight as to what to expect from a complete newcomer to the whole thing.
First of all, the website is very easy to use, and there is a lot of information about each shoe on the product pages. There is also loads of information to help you make an informed decision. There is also a wealth of information about the benefits of the shoes, what to expect and some feedback from avid fans.
The biggest problem I faced was the overwhelming choice. Which isn't a bad problem at all.
The website worked perfectly, and I got my package delivered to me the next day by the Royal Mail. Which, was very surprisingly quick and easy.
The biggest challenge was the sizing process. It was very difficult to know what size to buy, and based on some of the other Vivobarefoot reviews online, it seems that each shoe seems to fit differently. There is some inconsistency about what size you should wear. There is an app you can use for sizing, but it was a little clunky and didn't leave me feeling like It had accurately captured the size of my foot - it advised me to pick the size larger than I usually do.
I phoned up and asked customer service a few questions, and they suggested that the shoe fits slightly larger, so it was best to go for my usual size rather than what the app had suggested.
They also let me know that they couldn't do a swap - but if the size was not right, I would need to request a full refund and repurchase the items again. For a large company like Vivobarefoot, it's not the most convenient, but not obnoxious either.
Thankfully, both shoes fit fine. The Novus was a slightly tighter fit than the Magus, and this is what I had read in the other reviews too.
The Magna & Novus - 1 Month In
Upon receiving the shoes, I noticed the real quality of them. The soft leather on the Novus, and the comfy snug fit and the Magna had a really nice knitted ankle holder and a cool look. They felt very unusual at first but not horrifically so.
The shoes were not at all what I had expected, and after watching a couple of videos Vivobarefoot reviews I was a little worried about them. Of course, YouTubers love a bit of clickbait, but if you see a few 'what the barefoot community don't tell you' videos, it gets you thinking. And, after spending over £100 on a pair of shoes, I didn't want to get them and be bitterly disappointed.
The reports were that they would cause more harm than good and that I would end up damaging my feet, knees and toes. Obviously, I was wary.
However, upon using the shoes for nearly a month now, I have come to realise that those people were pushing the shoes to the extremes. In the first few days, I was walking on concrete and I did notice that I had to slow down, reduce my strides and take care of my heels. I did have a bit of muscle soreness in my feet and calves. My remedy was to swap out my new Vivobarefoot for my usual trainers for the day, and the next day I was fine again. It did notice that my feet became much stronger, and my walking gait had changed almost completely.
Would We recommend Vivobarefoot?
To conclude our Vivobarefoot review, we'd like to make clear that we have not been endorsed by Vivobarefoot, and this is our honest review.
The answer to whether we'd recommend Vivobarefoot is yes. The biggest issue we had with the company was the sizing, and it seems to be an issue across the board. For whatever reason, these shoes are particularly hard to fit and it would be so much easier if they were available in more local shoe shops so that it was possible to try them on.
They do have a comprehensive sizing system on the website, but it is a little confusing and not always going to give you a result that you find comfortable. The gap between the front of the shoe and your toe is a personal preference, so it can be difficult to get the size perfect when buying online.
Otherwise, yes, we'd absolutely recommend Vivobarefoot.