By Stephanie Stahl

Stephanie Stahl reports…

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You see barefoot running shoes everywhere now. But could they be dangerous, or good for your feet? 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl takes a closer look.

It’s the hottest new trend in sneakers. They feel like almost nothing.

“There’s nothing better than going barefoot. But frankly, I don’t want to stub my toe or step on a piece of glass,” said Meaghan Murphy, Self magazine’s Fitness Director.

All the major manufacturers are making them. Lightweight, minimalist shoes that mimic the feel of barefoot running, but protect your feet.

“They let your foot move the way they were made to move. So you’re running a little tippy toed. So there’s less impact on your joints,” said Meaghan.

The new barefoot sneakers have flatter soles so that you feel closer to the ground, and less padding frees the feet and lets them move in multiple directions.

‘There’s a lot more flexibility in the foot than people first realized. So the idea is to allow your shoe to move exactly as your foot designed,” said Bill McInnis with Reebok.

And there may be another benefit.

‘These let all of those little tiny muscles activate and start doing the work. You’re burning a few more calories. You’re getting a more natural forefoot strike,” said Meaghan.

Veteran runner Carlos Rodriguez says he experimented with barefoot running for several months to ease his knee pain.

“This just gives me protection from rocks. Once you get the lean and proper technique you almost feel like you’re just flying across the ground,” said Carlos.

Some runners believe the movement is less jarring to the joints. But podiatrist Christopher Ferguson says the shoes may cause other problems.

“Stress fractures, bunions, hammertoes, tendinitis, problems like that. Some people are even touting that it might even increase the impact in the forefoot. But we don’t know. There are no studies on it yet,” said Dr. Ferguson.

That’s happening right now. Research is underway to compare injury rates between the new minimalist shoes and standard sneakers.

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS3

Stephanie Stahl