Barefoot Shoes with Toes. Easily Explained.

Further development in the field of minimal shoes is the so-called toe shoes. These are barefoot shoes with toes.

The aim is to create the feeling of barefoot running even more pronounced than with minimal shoes, which is gentle on the joints and promotes the development of muscles. For many users, it is the safest way to imitate the feeling of barefoot running.

If you don’t feel comfortable with minimal shoes, toe shoes can be worthwhile alternatives. Spreading each toe helps the foot be less stiff and increase circulation. In addition, they strengthen the often weakly developed foot muscles and therefore ensure a well-supported musculoskeletal system.

With this article, I would like to address the following points:

Let’s get started!

What are toe shoes?

One thing in advance. We will not talk about ballet shoes here, even if you have to stand on your toes most of the time.

Proper barefoot running is something most adults in civilized countries have forgotten. However, your back, joints, knees, muscles, and toes will quickly thank you for returning to the original running style.

If walking barefoot is the default condition of our feet, the default design of footwear should benefit the foot while maintaining its default function. Toe shoes give the runner as much as possible the same feeling as when running barefoot.

Therefore, the purpose of the boots is primarily to protect the foot from injury and at the same time only minimally distract from the pure barefoot feeling. Walking and running are therefore just as strenuous for the foot or the muscles involved as without shoes.

It is, therefore, in the philosophy of the toe shoes, unlike many conventional shoes, not to support the foot, correct the foot position, or the like. Instead, Shoes should promote the natural human gait and the corresponding musculature.

If you want to know more, I wrote a more detailed article about barefoot shoes here: What is a Barefoot Shoe? Easy Explained!

What is so special about it?

a-pair-of-white and blue gloves

In toe shoes, each toe is enclosed individually, like a glove, but for the feet. The sole is so thin that it almost feels like walking barefoot with the distinct advantage that broken glass, sharp stones, or even dirt can not harm the foot. Due to the thin material and the low weight, the toe shoe belongs to the minimal shoes.

Toe shoes have been on the market since 2006 and offer a high degree of freedom of movement thanks to the toe separation and thin sole. Unlike other shoes, they promote a natural rolling process and strengthen the foot muscles optimally during running.

The foot first touches down with the bunion and the metatarsus and then rolls over the heel. This process cushions the impact, especially during sports.

Therefore, their field of application is no longer limited to everyday life or running. Toe shoes allow the foot to feel the ground because that tells the foot how to step.

What are the benefits of the shoes?

an athlete holds his ankle

Also, allow the foot to move naturally. If the arch of your foot wants to flex while supporting your weight, then your toe shoe allows that.

If your toes want to splay or bend upward as you step on the floor, then they can finally do that. Another critical advantage of toe shoes is that you don’t need to hold the shoe actively on foot.

You probably know this from sandals, bathing slippers, or flip-flops. With each step, you have to press down slightly with your toes so that the shoe does not slip off your foot.

Over time, this leads to cramping and shortening of the tendons and muscles involved. Additionally, they change gait and can develop orthopedic problems.

Because of the roomy toe box, the foot can move laterally in the shoe, which affects the foot’s perception of space.

You don’t know the health benefits of walking barefoot yet? Then hurry up now: 9 Health Benefits from Walking Barefoot You Don’t Know!

Are they suitable for winter and water sports?

a woman lies in clear water

If you want toe shoes suitable for winter, then you need a semi-high cut and lining. With the sole, you should pay attention to high slip resistance.

A lacing ensures that no dirt gets into the toe shoe. Customers can not use every toe shoe for water sports.

But there are extra models, such as the Vibram FiveFingers Flow, well suited for use in and around water.

However, the most important thing is that the upper material is water repellent, for example, made of neoprene, and the sole holds against moisture and cold.

How to find the right size?

The toe shoes fit when the longest toe has enough room in its toe pocket.

There should also be half to a whole finger width of space at the heel.

Are they suitable for children?

a boy and a girl standing on a cobblestone path

Children like to be barefoot anyway. Their feet are still developing and are therefore also very adaptable.

With toe shoes for children, the little ones can effortlessly switch from barefoot running to a shoe when the surface makes it necessary to protect the foot from injury. At the same time, the shoe does not restrict the range of motion of the toes and doesn’t weaken the muscles by excessive stabilization.

Because in children, unlike adults, the feet, tendons, and bones are still growing. In addition, toe shoes can promote muscle strength and prevent malpositions of the foot.

If you care about kids and want to learn more about barefoot shoes for kids, check it out here: Barefoot And Minimal Shoes For Kids. A Good Thing.

What are toe socks?

one detailed toesock

Not an accessory, but an excellent addition to toe shoes are the so-called toe socks, which are especially common in the Asian region. Toe socks also have separate compartments for each toe to get a lot of freedom of movement.

Toe socks can also be worn as a sock for the toe shoe and not just on their own. You can wear these against sweating in the shoe or as slippers for at home. Toe socks comparatively provide the best foot climatic properties.

How to clean barefoot shoes?

someone who polishes shoes

Smelly shoes are rarely lovely. But especially when you wear shoes barefoot, you can rarely avoid odors.

Good that most shoes, like a regular everyday shoe, can be cleaned in the washing machine. This washing works best at a temperature of 30 to 40 °C.

It would be best if you avoided fabric softener, but I recommend using a laundry bag. Of course, washing by hand is always more gentle.

For drying, it is better not to use the dryer but the clothesline. In between, a disinfectant also helps in the fight against foul odors.

What are the advantages of toe shoes?

someone with an ace in the hole
  • They are incredibly light.
  • They protect the foot from possible injuries.
  • The insole is mainly made of antibacterial microfiber and thus allows a lot of air to the feet. This airiness prevents too extreme sweating.
  • These shoes are quick and easy to clean at 40 °C or even simply with a bit of soap in the sink.
  • The shoes have high durability.
  • Wearing is possible both with and without socks.
  • Toe shoes are said to have the best foot climatic properties. The foot can breathe, and the shoe transports the sweat to the outside.
  • The natural rolling movement is not disturbed.
  • The shoes hold on the foot by themselves.
  • They promote the natural flow of movement.
  • They train the foot and toe muscles for stabilization while walking and standing.
  • Toe shoes restore the original posture and function of the foot.
  • They help to keep the balance.
  • You can experience the barefoot feeling with such shoes.
  • They look unique and help you recognize people with similar interests.
  • The toes are freely movable.
  • Toe shoes improve blood circulation.
  • The shoes consume little space in the luggage.
  • Toe shoes help improve balance or sense of balance.

What are the disadvantages of toe shoes?

green shards-lying-on-the-ground
  • While toe shoes can help with knee problems, they can only correct foot malpositions to a small extent. The foot’s arch is usually fully formed by adolescence, so malpositions in adults can rarely be restored entirely.
  • You should also take special care if you use the shoes for fitness or plan to run a marathon in them.
  • Without toe socks, barefoot wearing leads to stinky shoes.
  • The design of barefoot shoes does not please everyone.
  • Unless unique models are purchased, regular toe shoes are unsuitable in winter.
  • Toe shoes for children are too complicated, which manifests itself primarily in frustration when putting them on.
  • Some people feel insecure when wearing them. They are afraid of hurting themselves faster with toe shoes.
  • You become aware of your toes, which can affect your gait.
  • They attract a lot of attention.
  • You can wear either no socks or only specific socks that also have toe pockets.
  • It takes longer to put a toe shoe on your foot.

Which are the most famous toe shoe manufacturers?

a wall with many designer shoes


Vibram, or “Vibram Fivefingers,” is the most famous manufacturer of toe shoes. The company specializes in running shoes, and they manufacture high-quality work, leisure, and sports shoes.

The first toe shoes come from this company. It is essential to know that the manufacturer Vibram is known primarily for its high-quality soles.

Especially in the field of hiking and outdoor, many manufacturers brag about using these soles. The upper is made of soft kangaroo leather, at the same time tear-resistant, and also very breathable.

If you like hiking you might also be interested in the following article: Best 6 Minimalist And Barefoot Hiking Shoes in 2021


Shoes with severed big toes have existed in the Asian region for a very long time. Such “ninja shoes” also provide the template for these toe shoes.

The separation of the big toe is striking, whereas another chamber combines the remaining toes. Zemgear is to slip on lighter and is excellent for water sports or generally on the beach.


Fila’s “Skele Toes” combine the fourth and fifth toes (little toe).


Jika-Tabi is a Japanese worker’s shoe. Construction workers traditionally wear them, farmers, painters, road workers, and others. They are also worn at festivals and by traditional Japanese musicians.

The sole of the conventional Jika-Tabi consists of flexible natural rubber. It is soft enough to be flexible but stiff enough to protect the wearer’s foot from the ground.

The rest of the shoe is made entirely of lightweight and breathable cotton. The most distinctive aspect of the Jika Tabi is undoubtedly the split-toe shape that separates the big toe from the other toes.

a white chalk question mark on a black board


I hope this simple explanation helped you learn more about toe shoes.

If you have any further questions or suggestions about toe shoes or barefoot shoes in general or want to get rid of how weird they look, write in the comments, and I look forward to talking to you.

And always remember: If you have medical reasons that could affect how your feet feel in the shoes, it’s best to consult a doctor before starting to walk in toe shoes.

Feel Grounded


P.S.: If you want to know the other side of the coin and whether the hype about toe shoes is justified at all, then take a look here: Science Says Your Disgusting Toe Shoes arent Doing Anything but Grossing People Out