The What/Why/How of Minimalist Shoes
Minimalist shoes have gained much popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Minimalist shoes refer to any shoe that has a minimal midsole with little to no cushioning. Due to their construction, minimalist shoes force you to land on your midfoot and forefoot when walking and running, as opposed to landing on your heel. When landing on your midfoot/forefoot, you are also forced to take shorter, quicker steps. This leads to improvements in shock absorption, and can lead to less wear and tear injury and helps build stronger lower body (especially stronger feet).
Minimalist shoes had been a staple in society up until companies like Nike and Adidas invented their shoes with cushioning throughout the base off the shoe, and especially in the heel. This revolutionized the way shoes are made, and large amounts of cushion in the heel of our running shoes is still the gold standard. These shoes serve an important purpose, and do allow for a much smoother ride. However, in the process, Nike and Adidas created another problem: our feet have become exponentially weaker. This is where minimalist shoes come in.
Minimalist shoes bring us back to the way people have walked and ran for thousands of years. Running in minimalist shoes – when done properly – creates a natural running motion that can eliminate a lot of chronic injuries that effect runners, namely: runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.
So, with all of this in mind, how does someone get started wearing minimalist shoes? Most importantly, you must start SLOWLY! Most of us have spent our entire adult lives wearing shoes for any and all physical activity. Most likely, the intrinsic muscles of our feet and lower legs are much weaker than we think they are. With this in mind, we can’t get a pair of minimalist shoes, and then go out for a 5 mile run in them the next day. It’s important to slowly build strength in your minimalist shoes to avoid any injuries.
By now, I am sure you are chomping at the bit to order your first pair of minimalist shoes. And never fear, Hybrid Fitness is here to give you some great recommendations. Vibram FiveFingers, Merrell, and New Balance are our favorite brands currently in the minimalist marketplace, and you can’t go wrong with any of these options. Below are some pictures of our favorite models from each company. Try incorporating some minimalist training into your routine, and we promise you will see some positive benefits!