The hype around minimalist shoes may be slowly calming down but the light, bright and flexible footwear is still very popular. It can also make all the difference to some runners.
Minimalist shoes feel as close to running barefoot as possible. They are lightweight, flexible, low to the ground, and provide only protection and slight cushioning to the foot.
When it comes to minimalist shoes there is no in between, you are either a fan or not. Some runners say it keeps their legs feeling light and fresh, apposed to the traditionally heavier running shoe. For elite runners feeling light on your feet is great, if you get a shoe that will preform for you.
Then there is the biomechanical science behind the minimalist shoe. Barefoot shoes allow a more natural running form of the foot, whilst still providing slight cushioning and protection.
Should You Wear Minimalist Shoes?
Now being a podiatrist I am not against minimalist shoes and I do think they have a role to play in strengthening training and propriception for the experienced runner or athlete.
However these shoes are not advised for the novice trainer or inexperienced runner, as transitioning from a cushioned supportive trainer to a shoe which is almost like running barefoot can take considerable time to adjust.
Minimalist shoes require stronger foot, ankle, lower leg and core muscle groups, stronger proprioception, balance, appropriate running style and foot type. Without this wearing minimalist shoes can lead to increased lower limb injuries, foot pain and dysfunction.
Before you go out and get the newest minimalist style of footwear, it is important to have your feet assessed by a podiatrist to ensure your risk of injuries is minimised.