Originally Posted by dealt_with
It's actually just any material in general, it restricts the effect of tendons in your foot stretching and recoiling which provides a lot of power when running. Shoes stop feet from storing energy. If you have to walk around all day you'll find that your feet fatigue less when you have a shoe that has a stiff sole and less cushioning, the stiffer last allows more energy storage and less cushioning provides less of a need for your foot muscles to stabilise. So if you expect to be on your feet all day, don't wear a running shoe!
Barefoot shoes mimic different aspects of barefoot so probably provide different benefits depending on the type you buy but the 'barefoot running with shoes' is more a marketing line than anything. More research is needed into 'barefoot shoes', I'm guessing there are positives and negatives with the different concepts. My point is that barefoot shoes are not barefoot running.
From a semantics stand point that is totally true...but from a characteristic standpoint..it likely shares more characteristics with barefoot running than with full on athletic shoes. One thing it would share with athletic shoes for sure is a bit of covering for the foot in weather and for sharp points on the ground.
One thing that I do have to say though is....the idea that barefoot running is totally natural for humans isnt 100 percent true either..not in the same way it is for say, cats (as RDJ said earlier) I mean, humans have been wearing foot coverings/shoes/sandals of various kinds for thousands of years....it is very possible that we now do "need" shoes a bit more than the barefoot running crowd argues for.