Wait… Shoes Don’t Have To Hurt?

I love my shoes. I love my shoes!
My feet no longer sing the blues
I’ve tried them all—I’ve paid my dues
And now—at last—I love my shoes!

I’ve tried the best of hiking boots
On crowded streets and private routes
(I’ve even worn them with my suits)
My feet don’t care for hiking boots

And running shoes with padded soles
Assured me I would reach my goals
Their argument was full of holes—
My feet just ached in padded soles

My Tevas and my Birkenstocks
I’ve worn both with and without socks—
They yield some thousand natural shocks
…I’d just as soon wear LEGO blocks.

My shoe—the Vivobarefoot Ra—
(No padded sole at all—hurrah!)
I sigh aloud, a vocal “aaaahhh…”
I love my Vivobarefoot Ra.

This is an unsolicited but enthusiastic endorsement; I am receiving nothing from the Vivobarefoot people (my shoes were a gift, but from my kids, not from the company). My feet have hurt for enough years that I don’t give a rat’s ass if someone thinks this post has me selling out.

Shoes are important. Good shoes are amazing. I honestly didn’t know this until mere months ago, when I got these shoes for cephalopodmas. I had always relied on the false economy of cheap shoes, and I was accustomed to my feet hurting on a regular basis. I assumed it was part of life. I bought padded running shoes, and my feet still hurt. Such is life, no?

Then, the cuttlekids bought me shoes for cephalopodmas. Shoes. The gift that tells you “you are old!”. Or so I thought. Then I tried them on.




These shoes are wonderful. They are like walking barefoot. (disclosure—I have played Frisbee barefoot for forever, so barefoot is not so much second nature to me as… well, first nature)

There are two problems, and a kajillion good things.

The kajillion good things? They feel wonderful in a kajillion ways. And they look good (warning—I have no taste, so they might not actually look good. But I think they do!)

The two bad things? One… unless you protect them, the leather in the uppers is vulnerable to water (and salt water) in slushy streets.

Two… one of the great things about any shoe is how wonderful it feels to take it off. The Vivobarefoot Ra robs you of this feeling. You take off the shoe, and your foot feels…. Roughly the same as it did when the shoe was on. Your toes have room, the shoe can flex… it’s like being barefoot, except that it is presentable in the office!

Proper shoes are not a luxury; they are a necessity. Yes, these shoes were a gift, but I guarantee you I will be buying another pair very soon (I don’t have a black pair yet) for teaching, for meetings, and (who knows?) maybe for a wedding. These are good looking shoes, and they are comfortable—even when (especially when?) compared to padded running shoes!


  1. Trebuchet says

    I’m pretty sure those wouldn’t work for me. I have high arches that need support. A week in those and it’d be plantar fasciitis time again. On of several afflictions I’d really rather not revisit.

  2. Trebuchet says

    That’s “one of”, not “on of” of course. I hate seeing the typos only after I’ve clicked “submit”.

  3. kagekiri says

    I own a pair of Ra, too!

    I got used to “barefoot” walking/running via huaraches sandals and Vibram FiveFingers, but the Ra’s are way less conspicuous than either off those options (good or bad depending on your mood, I guess) or being barefoot outright.

    They’re also way less fiddly than the initial strap length readjustments for huaraches or having to deal with the toe-holes of the FiveFingers, which is handy too.

    Sadly, I also only have the brown pair, and they just don’t match the black suits I use for more formal wear, so I’m still wearing a comparatively constrictive pair of dress shoes for that sort of thing.

    And, of course, they’re pretty pricey. I’m somewhat used to paying boatloads for running shoes (Vibrams are in the 100+ range for their newer models), but I’m not sure I can justify another $130+ pair in black when I already have acceptable dress shoes and don’t need dress shoes for business most of the time (pretty casual office; I wear sandals most days).

  4. Cuttlefish says

    I hear ya, kagekiri–I also love my FiveFingers, but can’t exactly wear those to work; I need the black pair, but not any immediate time, so I’m biding my time. I hear they go on sale occasionally, at a pretty significant discount, so when that happens, I’ll re-evaluate my finances.

  5. says

    Cuttlefish have feet?

    Anyway, I have a terrible time with shoes, but for a different reason: my shoe size is 10 EEEEE. I don’t need wide shoes (which are usually a D or E), I need W – I – D – E shoes. Alas, very few shoes are made in this kind of size.

  6. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Hmmm… Glad to hear they work for you but they sound like a nightmare for me. Even standing barefoot on my yoga mat (which I do a lot since sciatica means I can’t sit for more than twenty minutes) quickly leads to sore heels. Of course my skeleton should probably be RMA’ed, if only I could find the paperwork…

  7. anuran says

    I like my Vibram Five Fingers. They took a couple weeks of getting used to. Now, for the first time in my life I actually have arches. My wife, who has very high arches, wears hers with no discomfort. Of course, she grew up wearing flip-flops

  8. says

    I always believed the “they’ll feel better once you break them in” line. Then a few years ago I discovered Ecco shoes. Fit so well I have to be sure my socks have no wrinkles, or my feet get them impressed. Yes, they are expensive, but then they are well built and last a lot longer than el cheapo foot torturers. On balance, a wash financially and a blessing for health.

  9. Peggy Mower says

    I’ve looked at a lot of shoes but I’ve never heard of the Vivobarefoot Ra. The last few years, I’ve purchased several pairs of handsewn Finn Comfort shoes but they’re outrageously expensive–many in the $300-400 range. One pair I put on layaway and it took months to pay for them. I thought if it took that long to pay for them, I’d think twice about purchasing another pair and wondering “Is any pair of shoes worth that much, especially when I’m going around in rags in exchange for a pair of shoes?” I just got a shoe catalog in the mail yesterday from Hotter and they’re much more reasonable priced and they look very comfortable (soft leather) and attractively styled. Most of them were priced at under $100 with a notation on the cover that they were the most popular shoe in Britain.

  10. lauren says

    can anyone tell me that how can i reduce the pain of my foot because the shoes i wear gave me the lot of pain please help

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