Are barefoot shoes good for flat feet? 3 Pros And 3 Cons

Are you tired of switching between shoes but still can’t get rid of the pain? Well, the pain might not be in the shoes. It might be on your feet.

Most people do not realize their feet type can influence the pain in muscles. You can use extra cushioning or walk barefoot. But, the comfort levels will depend on whether you have flat feet or not.

So, are barefoot shoes good for flat feet? Yes. People with flat feet can wear barefoot shoes for a natural gait. Such shoes also prevent extra support that can disturb the body alignment.

If you are also wondering whether you have flat feet or planning to go with barefoot shoes, this article is for you!

Let’s discover the anatomy behind flat feet and how barefoot shoes can be a good or bad idea in this case.

Are you Flat Feet? What are Flat Feet?

Having flat feet is a condition in which the inner sides of the feet do not have too much support. Apart from this, pressure is put on the middle foot from the body when you stand. This condition leads to the arch collapsing and pressure coming to the inner foot upon standing. Thus, the bottom of the foot flattens due to less support and more pressure than it can bear.

Due to this, the entire bottom of the foot touches the ground when you stand up straight. 

Most people with obesity or foot deformity have flat feet. Others may develop this condition due to foot problems.

Flat-footed runners often tend to face overpronation. This condition causes the feet to flatten more than normal while walking or running. Thus, runners feel muscle and back pain. Also, running with flat feet can increase your chances of injury.

In order to know if you have flat feet or not, it is important to understand the biomechanics of flat feet.

are barefoot running shoes good for flat feet

What are Barefoot Shoes?

Just as the name suggests, barefoot shoes tend to mimic the feeling of walking barefoot, you should also know about zero drop shoes which have the same benefits.

The design of the shoes provided minimum support and cushioning. That is why we also call them minimalist shoes. On the other hand, regular running shoes have cushioning and support to keep the feet comfortable.

While barefoot shoes might not feel comfortable at first, they have their benefits in the long run.

Barefoot shoes are good for flat feet runners because the shoes have minimum support. In this way, runners get a natural feel while running. While some people may disagree with this point, running naturally is good for the feet. Extra cushioning and support can disturb the natural body alignment. Therefore, it is better to choose shoes that match your foot type.

That is the actual concept of minimalism too. You need to keep it natural and minimal.

The Pros and Cons of Barefoot Shoes for Flat Feet

The misconception of barefoot shoes being bad for feet is not true, with increasing evidence in its support.

Although some may disagree with them being good for feet, the truth is, barefoot shoes are better for flat feet.

To keep you out of confusion, let’s discuss some pros and cons of barefoot shoes for flat feet.

Advantages of Barefoot Shoes for Flat Feet

1. Natural foot movement and enhanced proprioception

The best thing about barefoot running is that it keeps your running gait natural. 

Runners often opt for minimalist shoes to mimic the natural foot movement. Extra cushioning and support can be comfortable. But it destroys the body alignment. Due to this, you will feel pain when walking or running in other shoes.

The completely natural movement of barefoot shoes also allows you to keep track of your body movement. Thus, the shoes help with enhanced proprioception. As your feet have to bear the run alone, it increases the body’s shock-absorbing capability.

The less support of barefoot shoes is actually a benefit. It helps in enhanced proprioception. 

2. Strengthening of foot muscles and alignment improvement

Barefoot shoes are famous for their ability to strengthen foot muscles. It is because these shoes do not provide extra cushioning and support. Instead, barefoot shoes allow your feet to do all the work.

This minimum support helps in keeping the body aligned and your posture as natural as possible. This is especially beneficial for people with back pain and foot problems. 

3. Reduced risk of running-related injuries

Runners with health issues and foot problems are prone to injuries while running. But barefoot shoes help you keep your dream of running alive!

With barefoot shoes, you can reduce the risk of injuries. They are also great for flat feet because your running gait stays natural. Also, the body alignment does not get disturbed. The runners are less likely to roll their feet inward and fall while running. It is because your feet stay more in contact with the ground.

Thus, barefoot shoes can help strengthen the muscles of the feet and prevent back and ankle pain.

However, if you are already suffering from foot problems or back pain, it is better to consult a podiatrist before trying barefoot shoes.

zero drop running shoes (4)

Potential Disadvantages of Barefoot Shoes for Flat Feet

1. Lack of arch support and cushioning

While the lack of arch is an advantage for many runners, it can be a deal breaker for some.

Some runners prefer extra cushioning to keep their feet relaxed. It is because your feet already face a lot of wear and tear while running.

The Achilles tendon of runners with flat feet is already tight, which puts more pressure on it. When you run in barefoot shoes, this tendon has to bear more weight. This condition can lead to pain in the tendon.

Also, the cushioning and less support might not suit people that suffer from overpronation. 

2. Transition period and risk of overuse injuries

No doubt, transitioning from cushioned to barefoot shoes can be painful.

Several studies indicate that transitioning from cushioned to minimalist shoes should be slow. It is because wearing cushioned shoes makes you dependent on the soft and comfy feel. This extra support also changes the body alignment.

When you switch to minimalist shoes, your body gets minimum support. Also, the feel of wearing minimalist shoes is entirely different from cushioned shoes.

While the transition period should be slow and takes time, the overuse of minimalist shoes can also be dangerous. Putting constant pressure on tendons and foot muscles causes them to become weak. It can also lead to injuries.

Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a balance between wearing minimalist and cushioned shoes.

3. Not suitable for all types of surfaces and terrains

Minimalist shoes are only suitable for smooth and soft surfaces. These shoes already don’t have enough cushioning and support.

When you wear these shoes in rocky areas, your feet will hurt. The body alignment will also get disturbed, which will increase the chances of falling.

Who Should Consider Barefoot Shoes for Flat Feet?

Runners and people who like walking should consider barefoot shoes for flat feet. However, make sure that foot type also plays a role in it. If you suffer from severe overpronation, barefoot shoes are not the right choice for you. They can make the condition worse. Barefoot shoes are only suitable for runners with moderately flat feet.

You can also try barefoot shoes if you want to improve your foot condition. The features of barefoot shoes allow you to mimic barefoot walking, which can help strengthen the foot muscles. Putting slight pressure on the feet will encourage the muscles to do their work, which will increase their flexibility.

Barefoot shoes are also ideal for runners who want to undergo training. These shoes keep the body aligned, which makes them great for weight lifting and gym training. Therefore, if you are willing to undergo a gradual transition period, barefoot foot shoes for running can be a good choice.

Who Should Avoid Barefoot Shoes?

As we already discussed, barefoot shoes are not for everyone.

If you suffer from overpronation, you should avoid wearing barefoot shoes. These shoes will make your feet roll inward, which will disturb your running gait and make you fall. Runners with severe flat feet should also not opt for barefoot shoes. These shoes can put more pressure on the muscles than they can stand.

Apart from this, if you have a pre-existing foot condition or severe injuries, barefoot shoes are not a good choice. Such conditions make the muscles weak, making it impossible for them to bear excessive wear and tear. Back pain and ankle pain can also make you prone to further injuries. So, it is better to avoid barefoot shoes in this case too.

Also, if you simply prefer cushioning and support, you can go with regular running shoes. Running shoes are good for runners that like to have extra comfort without having to put much pressure on the feet.

Tips for Transitioning to Barefoot Shoes

1. Gradual Transitioning Techniques

The first thing to consider while transitioning to barefoot shoes is to keep it slow. Remember that running shoes and barefoot shoes are completely different. Therefore, you need to give time to adapt to new shoes.

The best idea is to start with shorter distances and slow paces. You should only wear barefoot shoes for 15-20 minutes a day. When you wear barefoot shoes, your feet will hurt in the beginning. So, you should not put more pressure on the feet. Running shorter distances at a slow pace will help you put less pressure on the feet. The foot muscles will also be able to adapt to the changes this way.

Strengthening exercises and foot mobility drills can also make the transition easier. Such exercises usually strengthen the forefoot area because this area faces the most wear and tear while running. These exercises also strengthen the muscles.

However, make sure that putting too much pressure on the muscles is not good in the beginning. You should keep doing exercises, but also listen to your body and adjust accordingly. All runners take different time to adapt to this change. You might have to wait for a few months for your feet to fully adapt to barefoot shoes. During this time, you can keep wearing both shoes as well.

2. Monitoring Progress and Recognizing Warning Signs

After the initial stage of the transition period is over, you should start to see some positive changes in your body. If you notice a change in your gait or running pattern, remember that it is natural while transitioning to new shoes.

Also, keep noticing if you are getting benefits out of it. These may be reduced back and ankle pain or stronger muscles.

While you will notice benefits too, make sure that the overuse of barefoot shoes, in the beginning, can also lead to severe pain. That is why we recommended minimizing the time you wear barefoot shoes in the beginning. If you start to feel pain and it prolongs or worsens, it is better to stop for a while.

If the pain continues and you notice health issues, you should seek medical advice.

While barefoot running is good, it might not suit all runners with flat feet. If your feet cannot adapt to barefoot shoes, you should stick to regular running shoes.

How to Cure Flat Feet

While flat feet are not always a problem, some people might feel pain. In this case, it is better to consult a podiatrist to treat your flat feet.

Here are some ways you can use to cure your flat feet.

  • Do Exercises 

You can do some exercises to cure your flat feet if they are causing problems. These exercises help strengthen the Achilles tendon and the forefoot area. The purpose of these exercises is to align the body and strengthen the muscles so that the feet are able to bear pressure. 

  • Consider Physical Therapy

If flat feet are becoming an increasing problem due to a health condition or injury, physical therapy can be helpful. A physiotherapist will guide you best in this regard. 

The physiotherapist might also suggest some medicines or painkillers, depending on your condition. They also make you do exercises to bring the foot shape to normal and strengthen the muscles of the foot.

  • Wear The Right Shoes

Wearing the right shoes can also help you cure your flat feet. In most cases, walking barefoot with flat feet does not hurt. But, wearing cushioned shoes disturbs the body alignment and causes problems.

That is why it is better to wear minimalist shoes if you have flat feet. However, the degree to which barefoot shoes can be helpful for flat feet will depend on your foot shape and foot type.

You can also consider wearing insoles for some added support if barefoot running hurts the feet.


Are barefoot shoes good for high arches?

In general, people with high arches should wear supportive shoes with padding. This will keep the foot aligned without putting all the pressure on the sides of the foot.

Therefore, barefoot shoes might not be the best option for people with high arches. Still, if these shoes do not cause any problems and are fine to wear, you can wear them.

Are barefoot shoes good for standing all day?

While many people disagree with this fact, barefoot shoes are actually good for standing all day. These shoes help maintain a better posture and strengthen the foot muscles. Therefore, standing in barefoot shoes is great if you think they might hurt your feet while walking.

Standing for long periods in barefoot shoes can also reduce the risk of back pain. It is because the shoes will keep your body aligned.

However, if standing for long in barefoot shoes hurts your feet, you should consider regular shoes.

Are barefoot shoes good for plantar fasciitis?

Barefoot shoes are good for preventing plantar fasciitis. In this condition, it is better to keep the body in the natural position such that the heel isn’t higher than the toes.

Thus, walking or running in barefoot shoes will help prevent plantar fasciitis.

But, if you already have plantar fasciitis, you need extra support and cushioning. The tendons are already weak, and running in barefoot shoes might worsen the condition and delay the healing process.

So, it is best to consult a podiatrist in this regard.

Are barefoot shoes good for bunions?

Yes. Barefoot shoes can be effective in preventing bunion pain. These shoes already have less cushioning and a bigger toe box. Thus,  you can move your feet freely inside the shoes.

Also, the flat sole also keeps the feet aligned and provides a natural gait. This prevents all the pressure from going to specific areas of the foot. When the pressure is distributed all over the foot, it reduces bunion pain.

Can barefoot shoes help in correcting flat feet?

Yes, barefoot shoes are a good option for correcting flat feet. The natural running position of barefoot shoes is a plus for runners with flat feet. These shoes do not give additional support and allow our bodies to do the tasks.

Thus, running in minimalist shoes can help disperse the pressure at all the right places. This can help correct the posture and bring the feet to their natural shape.

Are there any specific barefoot shoe brands recommended for flat-footed runners?

It is better to consult a podiatrist to choose the right barefoot shoes. It is because there are many barefoot shoes in the market designed for specific people. Depending on your foot shape and running style, a podiatrist can best recommend a brand.

Still, there are famous brands in the market that make barefoot shoes. These include Xero Shoes, FeelGrounds, Lems, and Vivobarefoot. These brands focus on making barefoot shoes of all kinds.

Apart from these, you can also find minimalist shoe collections on other brands.

Are barefoot shoes suitable for long-distance running?

You should wear barefoot shoes regularly for running. But running longer distances in barefoot shoes might not be helpful.

In general, you should run in barefoot shoes for 30 minutes daily. If you’re transitioning to barefoot shoes, it is better to reduce the time.


Even if you have flat feet, it should not keep you away from trying minimalist shoes. The trick is to keep things slow and consistent.

However, make sure that the type of your flat feet will determine if you should try these shoes. The best idea is to consult a podiatrist. If you have an existing foot problem, they will certainly recommend avoiding barefoot running.

Apart from this, flat feet are not a problem. If they cause pain, you can still correct them through medical treatment or simply wearing the right shoes.

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