Nike Free 5.0 V4 Running Shoe vs. Barefoot Running

Nike Free 5-0 v4 Review

I finally got a chance to run in the Nike Free 5.0 v4 shoe we showed when we first go the shoe and “unboxed” a few days ago.  It wasn’t an extensive run, only 1 mile on a treadmill as I’m pretty out of shape, but overall I was still impressed.

It felt pretty comfortable as I ran and I didn’t encounter as many aches and pains as I usually get when I run with my normal pair of running shoes.  Like I mentioned in my first impressions of the Nike Free 5.0 shoes, these shoes are form fitting which you might think would be uncomfortable, but somehow they managed to make it not too tight or too lose…just right.

nike free 5-0 v4 running review

Too get a better idea of how well these Nike Free 5.0 shoes compared to true barefoot running I figured it’d be good to actually try running barefoot on the treadmill to see if it felt similar or not.  In particular I wanted to see where my foot strike was located as I used the Nike Free 5.0 shoes versus going barefoot on the treadmill.  I taped myself running at 2 different speeds.  The first speed, walking speed, was at 3.1 mph, and the second speed, running speed, was at 6.0 mph.


While I can’t say it felt exactly like true barefoot running, the Nike Free’s weren’t that far off.  You’ll notice there is more heel strike in the Nike Free 5.0’s while running than barefoot running.  With barefoot running the point of impact with the treadmill seems to be higher up the foot and the rolling action (heel to toe) seems less pronounced than the Nike Free 5.0 shoes.


Here is the point of impact with the Nike Free 5.0 shoes:

nike free running on treadmill

Here is the point of impact with barefoot running:

Barefoot Running on treadmill

The point of looking at the point of impact is to understand more why potentially there’s more injury with traditional running than barefoot running.  The theory is by localizing the point of impact at the heel the initial shock has less area to distribute the force and thus travels up the ankle, shin, and leg which can lead to more potential lower extremity injuries (for more info see our post on heel striking).


On the first run with these shoes I can tell that I like them, but without running in them more long term it’s tough to say whether or not the Nike Free 5.0 shoes would alleviate my past problems with shin splints.  Let’s hope they help.