Army cracks down on five-toe running shoes


All Army Activities message 239/2011 is likely to step on some toes.

It prohibits the wear of shoes that feature “five separate, individual compartments for the toes,” such as the one pictured above. Such shoes “detract from a professional military image,” the message said. As such, soldiers are not allowed to wear them with the individual physical fitness uniform or when conducting physical training in military formation.

In truth, this is not a new rule. But it seems word either hasn’t been spread or adhered to.


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.


  1. They get the beret right. Why not this as well. What real harm accrues from their use? None. Just some Sergeant Major who wants to assert some legacy thinking. One step forward; two steps back.

    :Shaking head:

  2. except for the way they look, I don’t understand what the big deal is? I’ve got kids wearing basketball sneakers with little support but since they look like shoes they’re ok while I am motivated to run (less injuries now that I cen “feel” the road) in my five fingers but asethically I cannot wear them? Glad I don’t do unit PT (another drop in injuries for me) so I’m not affected and still trucking with my “socks”.

  3. You know the “dog and pony show” should not interfere with some things. This is one of those things. In pt the mission is to perform at standard, in which case the equipment YOU provide should help your performance right? If these shoes help people in fitness training, who cares what they look like? Makes me wonder if the ethos is right since the policy makers disregard their own ethics, more specifically, always place the mission first. Seems here instead of looking at worrying about what is better for results, they are to busy lookin at people’s feet.

  4. Total BS!!!! I see soldiers in Neon Pink Nikes, and thats completly OK. I see soldiers wearing Air Force Ones and thats OK. Put on a pair of 5 fingers and all of a sudden you dont have a military appearance?Why is it that the most Elite soldiers like SF/Rangers are all wearing them? Take a look around the Army, and the Units with Platoons full of people on profile and some CSM bitching about shoes!!! You know what detracts from Military appearance, your whole unit falling out of a Battallion run, or your units pathetic 240 PT average!!

  5. I don’t see the issue here? shoes are a huge part of the runners ability to effectively train. It is simple to let ur 1SG, CO, & CSM know ur troops are wearing them during morning pt hours and then have them wear standard PT shoes to appointments etc., if the soldiers want to wear them let them purchase them and then implement controls to keep the knuckle heads from screwing it up.

  6. J Dickenson on

    I find it ironic that they are going through all the time and effort of changing the APFT in order to facilitate “functional fitness,” but the first time some SGM gets a bee in his bonnet they put out an ALARACT… Make up your mind guys- do you want us to be functionally fit/have less injuries or do you want some SGM to sleep well at night knowing that we all have matching shoes?

  7. This is a poor decision. You take motivated soldiers who are trying to improve their physical fitness and shut them down. What a message to send!

  8. Find something else to discuss… leave our men and women in uniform alone and let them wear whatever type shoes they like. Maybe it helps their backs with this type shoe! Afterall they are the ones carrying the heaviest loads! Leave em alone..

  9. Just another of the many little things that add up to one big thing. I think it’s time to go start a lucrative career in something else. Maybe somewhere that my pt shoes are nobody’s business but mine. Keep your reenlistment, there, Big Green. I’ll be just fine without it.

  10. SSG "Ready to Retire on that Note" on

    This is exactly why we have so many problems in the military now. People at higher levels with nothing better to do but micromanage and focus on little things that make little impact rather than attacking the larger issues that affect so many. Honestly how of today’s Soldiers have bought the five finger shoes and tried to wear them at pt? I have seen some but not enough for it to be a problem. I own a pair, most of the Soldiers around me say they wouldn’t spend that much money on a shoe that looks like that. With that being said why did get top level attention? I guess we have this war and getting all our troops home safe and injury free under control. This is just a diversion while Soldier care is really being ignored and policies altered to suit politicians, not Soldiers.

  11. These shoes improve balance and stability, they strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs that you don’t normally use with traditional running shoes. The idea that they detract from a professional military image is ridiculous. They stand to do more good than bad.

  12. SSG(P) Harding on

    I have a P3 for two bad shoulders. I don’t have to run for PT. But the five fingers have helped me run, by forcing me to run properly. It is too bad. If a study was done I know it would show they are a benefit.

  13. There are so many out of shape soldiers that can’t run filling our ranks now that maybe the Army should just start issuing these shoes! Everyone wins!

  14. I cant wait to wear my road cone orange and neon green running shoes with my APFU. They are sure to promote that “professional military image” the Army is looking for in footwear these days. They should also coordinate nicely with my ever present PT Belt. I’m guessing that it is written somewhere in the Puzzle Palace that when you rmove one stupid 670-1 regulation you must immediately replace it with one of equal or greater stupidity. Cant wait for the next one….

  15. Soldiers will enter combat wearing military footwear. They should be training in the same gear that will be worn/used in the real world.

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