Outdoors

Freeheel Runningpads literally leave you (half) barefoot

A half-soled running sandal billed the "only barefoot shoe that deserves the name"
A half-soled running sandal billed the "only barefoot shoe that deserves the name"
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A half-soled running sandal billed the "only barefoot shoe that deserves the name"
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A half-soled running sandal billed the "only barefoot shoe that deserves the name"
The profile shows what the Runningpad is all about
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The profile shows what the Runningpad is all about
The profile shows what the Runningpad is all about
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The profile shows what the Runningpad is all about

The barefoot shoe revolution has really brought us some interesting shoes. You have the classic (and kinda creepy) Vibram FiveFingers, the Sazzi five-toed sandals and the Swiss Barefoot shoe-socks, to name but a few. One of the latest entries in weird, goofy barefoot cobbling is the Freeheel Runningpad, a sort of half sandal from Germany's Starringer.

The "pad" part of the Runningpad product name suggests it's probably a little more minimal than the average pair of sandals. However, when you look at it from the top, it looks a lot like any other leather sandal. It's not until you view it from the side or bottom that you realize you're looking at a forefoot sole with sandal straps on top. It leaves the heel completely naked and free.

The entire barefoot movement is based upon the idea that barefoot running encourages a forefoot or mid-foot strike, as opposed to the heel strike that is common when using modern running shoes. Landing on the front of your foot is said to support superior, natural running posture and mechanics, lowering the potential for injury by relying on the natural spring of your foot.

Whatever your thoughts on the merits of barefoot running principles, it's easy to see how they apply to the Freeheel Runningpad. By eliminating the heel section altogether, the shoe provides an even stronger impetus to employ a forefoot running technique. In addition to encouraging forefoot running, the shoe keeps weight to a minimum and claims to offer an optimal climate for cool, comfortable feet.

The profile shows what the Runningpad is all about
The profile shows what the Runningpad is all about

In using a half-sole sandal design, Freeheel also strips away about as much of the shoe as possible while maintaining something to sell. It markets the Runningpad as the "only barefoot shoe that deserves the name." While we've seen some other interesting takes on minimalist shoes, this one certainly seems to leave you the most barefoot.

One purported advantage that we have to take issue with is "water and gravel in and out." Water isn't as much of a problem, but we'd prefer the gravel to just stay out, where it doesn't threaten to become lodged uncomfortably under the sole or toe. Allowing gravel in at all seems more like a con than a pro, though the Runningpad's open design should let it pass through more easily.

Given that the Runningpad doesn't fit around your whole foot, traditional sizing need not apply. The shoes are sold in small, medium and large sizes, which are based upon the width of your forefoot.

Source: Runningpad.de , ISPO

9 comments
Doc Rock
Actually, as I used to be a barefooter ( for 40 years).. i can verify that indeed, this might just work.. it was never my heel that got hot or scraped on 110 degree pavement, but the front part, that these sandals cover.. if only i still believed in "exposure", but I don't, now, after 40 years, I have turned to "modesty"
jerryd
I've been going barefoot for 55 yrs now and if one does, you naturally develop your own pads.
Fred Conwell
Great concept. I just cut off the heel section of my $1 flip-flops.
James Stoxen
Sounds like it would be a good thing however, anything you have on the front of the foot will fall off if you run normally. In order to keep this device on the forefoot do you have to contract the tibialis anterior to maintain the foot level just before impact? If so then there will be a tensing of the limb. Tensing of the joints prior to and during impacts could lead to more of a bang vs a spring load of the force of the impact into the body. I don't know how the device is fastened to the forefoot but if that is how you maintain the device on the forefoot that seems to be the predictable response.
Mark Senior
Having torn the calf muscles in my lower leg (many years ago) with a sprinting shoe with a similar configuration i cannot think of anything worse for fast running. Elevated toes are great for controlling plantar faciaitis, but dangerous for fast running.
MD
What a load of crap... Barefoot running is exactly that... Barefoot.. One who only runs barefoot occasionally may actually be better wearing shoes.... As stated above if "you" run barefoot daily, sure the callouses build up.... and what runner worthy of the name doesn't run daily (ok you can have a rest day every week, so-long as you make up the miles on the other days) , if less, that you are merely an enthusiast... (I am not a runner) All of these abominations of shoes which are using the barefoot name are "blaspheming". It is Just, the "Runner" Manufacturers figuring that after slamming bare foot running for years (stating all sorts of scientific evidence why it is so- bad.), there is a buck to be made... (Long after the (many of) original success stories have gone back to running in shoes..(through sponsorships).) Now we have a scientific Consensus that barefoot running is Good, so it must be.... (jk) If Nike and Addidas et al... could tattoo their name on the sole of all of their sponsored athletes (and the upper outer of the foot, a nice little logo .), they would be selling the tattooes to the masses, purporting some running performance benefit associated with having the tattoo... AS we would be seeing a lot more foot level shots of marathon runners, and the people who worship at the temple of running, will have to have the same beautification treatment as their (temporary) deity....
Topofthemorn
I've got a pair of five fingers and fila skeletoes since learning they help sort skeletal problems caused in the first place by shoes. I don't run, but enjoy walking barefooted since learning about Grounding, or Earthing, recently discovered by Clinton Obert. Check out Groundology.com, they say it's possibly the greatest medical discovery in history, I agree, I've been sleeping grounded ever since hearing about this and feeling amazingly well. I wear the five fingers to protect my feet in between walking barefoot on grass and pavements.
Charlie Channels
Mr. Mark Thompson Sr., kind greetings from Lima, Perú. How can elevated toes control plantar fascitis? I´m asking this because I'm really trying to "heal my heel" and get back on the track.... Thank you for your kind attention!
Xero
Sorry, but the thickness and stiffness of the forefoot pad makes this WAY LESS like barefoot than the Invisible Shoes sandals, which are just a 4mm or 6mm flexible rubber outsole that lets your foot move totally naturally (and weigh as little as 3 ounces).