May 8, 2013 at 12:31 PM ET
Barefoot running has gained a relatively small but fervent following in recent years, inspiring a Barefoot Runners Society and the third-annual International Barefoot Running Day this past weekend. Its reputation for improving technique and preventing injuries may be up for debate, but there’s one undeniable benefit of running unshod: You don’t have to buy new shoes. (Predictably, footwear companies have countered the trend with oxymoronic “barefoot running shoes.”) If you prefer a bit more cushioning between you and the asphalt, you can find comfortable, breathable, lightweight shoes from respected brands starting at $65.
Below are the top picks from Cheapism.com for both men and women.
Before you buy, try this test from Runners World to help determine the right type of shoe for your foot: Pour some water onto a baking sheet and wet the sole of your foot, then plant it on a paper grocery bag (or just step purposefully onto a bath mat the next time you get out of the shower). Compare your print with the examples provided to find out if you have normal arches, high arches, or flat feet.
Most people with normal arches can wear any of the shoes listed above. A high arch encourages the foot to roll outward, a motion known as supination or underpronation. So-called supinators should opt for a neutral shoe like the Saucony Kinvara 3, Asics Gel-Blur33 2.0, or Brooks PureConnect 2, rather than a stability shoe like the Saucony Guide 6. That model suits runners with flatter feet who are vulnerable to overpronation. Severe overpronators may want to try a motion-control shoe like the Brooks Addiction 10. It starts at $110, but we’ve seen the women’s version listed for $65.
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