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Reebok has officially jumped on the bandwagon of barefoot running "or natural running." That may be understating the significance of this event, Reebok has not just created a "natural running" shoe. No, no, they have perfected natural movement

 Natural movement. Perfected. ( From Reebok Site)

76 strategically placed RealFlex sensors independently adapt to your environment, providing tailored protection and performance. With a sole that is 20% lower to the ground than conventional running shoes, RealFlex brings you closer to your training surface for a more responsive, more natural feel.

The Video below does a good job at marketing the shoes, I like how they talk about these shoes being built to protect you on pavement but the video is all out in the

When watching Reeboks technology video (shown below) you are off the top saying to yourself maybe they do know what they're talking about. The thing is, they are saying all the right things in the video. Here are a few quotes below:

"barefoot or natural running actually makes a lot of sense from a bio-mechanic standpoint."

" Bio-mechanically speaking it makes sense because when you land on your forefoot you land with your knee bent so all the shock absorption happens in your muscles not your joints. When you land on your heel all that shock is taken up by the joints in your knees and ankles and hips"

So reading those quotes your saying to yourself that Reebok has done their homework and maybe they are buying into the Barefoot running idea.

But quickly you see their true colors, after talking up Barefoot running they say the following statement... "But we want to take that and improve it — namely by adding protection" If you truly believe that barefoot running is the best for you, would you say you can improve it, and then would you go above that and say to improve it you'll add protection to make it better??

Reebok seems like they put alot of padding on the heel of the Realflex, why is this? Reebok tells us its for running down hill. I kinda think its for all those heel strikers that will buy these shoes because of the hype and now they won't complain because their heels will be protected, and they will continue to run improperly.

One Thing I must say is that Reebok has made a great shoe to go head to head with the Nike Free, I just wish they went alittle more minimalist.
Reebok made a pretty shoe that looks great and is comfortable, but is it really a barefoot shoe?
They made the sole more flexible which is great, they made the shoe alot lighter which is great but when it comes to the padding there's still too much between your foot and the road.

Reebok say the Realflex is natural running perfected, I say it's marketing dollars perfected.

Does the Realflex's heel mess with your running?

I find it funny that if Reebok was making a true Barefoot shoes, that they would give it a raised heel, does that make sense?

The heel only allows you heel strikers out there the option to heel strike if you chose.

It's interesting that in the video at the start they speak of fore foot running then at the end they are talking about heel padding??? Whats up?

Reebok say's:
There's two problems with barefoot running. One is landing on the forefoot on hard man-made surfaces such as concrete tends to induce stress fractures. We want to protect that.

So we're taking your foot and raising it up off the ground and protecting it throughout the foot with 76 sensors each designed to serve a specific purpose under your foot. Back in the heel the sensors are joined together. That's going to give you heel impact. One of the other issues with running barefoot is that when you're running downhill you can't land on your forefoot so you're going to need that heel protection and this build that in. On the lateral side of the back of the shoe we build those posts a little square to give you support and stability. Up in the forefoot we link those pods together. These nine pods right here are what's giving you the impact protection up in the forefoot.

All combined it gives you the feel and motion of natural running but with protection. That's the difference with RealFlex.

I have a problem with this.... The whole point of barefoot running is to stay away from all the unnatural padding that we see in the everyday running shoe. How can they say this is a barefoot shoe then talk up all the padding ???

It's funny that Reebok has 76 pods called "sensors" but these sensors lifts your foot higher away from the ground.

Every shoe does this to some extent. Vibram FiveFingers even do it. 

So is Reebok's Realflex a good addition to the Natural  Running Movement?

I would have to say no, the shoe looks like any other running shoe that gives you alot of padding at the heel, so you can heel strike, They try to make it sounds like the Reebok Realflex is something new.... Have they ever seen the Nike Free?? I must say that the realflex is a great shoe I'm just disapointed that Reebok didn't go all the way..

I'll let you make your own choice...

Nike Free Vs. Reebok Realflex


  1. Just like Nike, Reebok is looking to capitalize on the barefoot running movement without saying that all of their other shoes with biomechanic features are bogus. Thus, they find a compromise by selling it as the perfection of natural movement plus the advantage of cushioning. This isn't anything new, the shoe companies have been trying for years to convince us that added cushioning is a benefit, a technological improvement for our feet, and that their shoes will perfect our stride.

    I think many people will be interested in these, but those of us who understand the goals and values of a natural barefoot running stride won't be fooled.

  2. I tried them today for the first time. I think they are great trainng tool for helping to transition closer to more efficient fore-foot landing running, great tool for strenghtening foot muscles, improving flexibility of foot joints/ligaments. But yet being more forgivable then barefoot. I really enjoyed them at my marathon pace 6:48. Feet were very comfortable, sensation from landing was good, it was easy to stay in efficient stride. Good tool in training, but not bare-foot equivalent by any measure.

  3. I think I agree with everything you said about all the gimmicky phrasing to sell this as a barefoot running shoe.

    The reason I'm sold on the RealFlex is because for me it is that perfect medium between barefoot running and a traditional running shoe.

    I'll be honest, I jumped on the barefoot running bandwagon when the Vibrams came out - but I had as many issues with those as I did with regular running shoes.

    I wanted a light, flexible shoe that was great for on the road and trail running. The Virbrams are ok, but don't as much protection and aren't really great for running distances in. Regular running shoes were too heavy and all the arch support is painful to me.

    I found the RealFlex is a great shoe for someone looking for something between. They are good for front foot landing and offer more protection.

    That said, I think it would have been more accurate for Reebok to have presented them as a good transition shoe.

  4. Well said thedailyherald, I think you just sold me a pair of these!

  5. I bought a pair receantly to use as a transition shoe while my left foot strengthens after a few years of being all jammed up with bones in weird places. So far, they feel amazing and it is cool to feel my foot begin to work the way my un-injured foot works again.
    Love, love love the glove-like fit.

  6. I've had a pair for ten days now. And I'm happy with them. My old shoes gave me a mild case of plantar fasciitis. You can blame me for bad form but let's face it the old shoes with the thick heel encouraged it. The Realflex changed my stride by making me run more on my forefoot and allows me to flex my foot instead of striking hard with the heel. It's flexible but has some cushioning for my heel. They're also a lot lighter than my old shoes. I think it's a very good way to strengthen your foot and get a good stride.

  7. I've just started using these shoes and I'm pretty happy. I'm a heavy runner whose been running for about 30 years and I've always used stability shoes. Well my knees got to be in pretty rough shape over the years and I thought my running days were over. Switching to these shoes has kind of forced me to become a forefoot striker and I can really feel the difference in my knees. The jury's still out, but right now I'm pretty encouraged.

  8. getting them today

  9. I used the Reebock Realflex for a while and really thought they did a nice job. Recently though I started using the Merril trail glove which has zero difference in heel, forefoot height. I found these even better. I have quite severe arthritus in both knees and transitioning to these shoes has me running again with minimal pain. My legs feel springy and running is once again enjoyable. Which I'd known about this sooner.

  10. I understand that you want to feel natural while running but why are you dissing good shoes?? Saying that they mute ground feel, then turn around to say that even socks mute ground feel seems like you just need to run barefoot and really get that natural feel of the ground...

  11. Just bought a pair recently and love them so far- yes, it's a bit out of line to say they're a "perfected" bare-foot shoe, or really a barefoot shoe at all, but I ran in one pair of Nike Free 5.0's for over a year and despite two new pairs of heavier shoes (Mizuno Wave Inspires and Nike Lunarglide +2s) I kept coming back to the Nike Frees because of the light weight and flexibility. However I had to watch myself when upping the mileage because I would end up with inflamed tendons across the top of my foot. This was because of the lacing on the Frees, which I solved proactively on the new Reeboks by installing bungee laces from a running shop, effectively making them SUPER COMFY and tri-compatible which is what I was really looking for. These are shoes that I can confidently train AND race in, and for 80-90$ that's a pretty awesome deal.

  12. I think too many people are looking at the "barefoot" thing the wrong way. Who cares if they call it a barefoot shoe and it really isn't quite that? The shoe may fit certain runners very well. Barefoot running is just turning into a trendy movement and losing its value. Some people can't go all the way to a barefoot shoe and would be stupid to do so because they'll just end up with injuries. I'm one of those people, but I have found shoes like the Saucony Kinvara to be helpful because I am a mid/forefoot striker, but still need protection otherwise I start getting tendonitis. Unless you are running on grass, going completely barefoot (or even as low as the vibrams) is ill-advised for most people because human were not built to run on asphalt and concrete. I have a new set of Real Flex shoes and so far they seem to provide the advantages of barefoot running (natural flexing of the foot in all directions on impact) but they still provide adequate support and protection from hard surfaces. The nine squares on the forefoot that are connected seem to really absorb and then release energy (to propel forward) pretty well!!!

  13. just got them this week. after my first 12 mile run in them, i've decided that these are by far the best running shoes i've owned. i was amazed that, for the first time, my feet weren't sore after a distance run. plantar fasciitis has gone away. go get some. you'll love 'em.

  14. I have had mine six days...i'm in love...already bought a econd pair

  15. I think this 'natural / barefoot' fad thing is a bit extreme.

    You have to go with what works for you, and this Reebok shoe is fantastic for a casual runner.

    Seriously, I love these shoes.

  16. Just bought these shoes!was confused between nike and reebok although the nike shoe is 3 times the price of the reebok ones!
    So excited i immediately started my daily jump rope routine and they felt so great i didnt want to stop!!!

    Amazing shoes i love them!! Dont regret buying them
    at all!!!

  17. hands down the Reebok Real Flex is the most comfortable running shoe I ever owned. I am not a pro runner , so I approach the issue from another viewpoint - they are great for every day wearing also - so I just bought another pair!