When purchasing shoes, whether it be for leisure, dress, or sports, you have many options. Some people go for looks, some for comfort, and some for the features of the shoes. The problem is, no one really knows what they are purchasing when buying shoes, especially running shoes. Every running shoe company is going to have their research on why their shoes is so great. This could include the cushioning, posting, toe box, how smooth you transition from heel to toe, and the list goes on.
In my opinion, which is based on experience of running in 5 Finger Vibrams for 7 years, knowledge of biomechanics and anatomy, and looking at research regarding minimalist shoes, when it comes to shoes, LESS IS MORE.
There has been a lot of research done in recent years comparing barefoot, minimalist, and traditional running shoes and most of the research all shows the same results.
- You land in more of a midfoot strike rather than heel strike in barefoot shoes compared to traditional shoes.
- Biomechanics in the legs are in a more natural state with barefoot shoes.
- Knee pain has been found to be reduced with barefoot and minimalist shoes.
- Pronation is actually worse/greater in traditional shoes than barefoot.
- Feet and lower leg strength is improved with barefoot compared to traditional shoes
If you want to transition to a minimalist or barefoot shoe, I would suggest it, but there are some suggestions to make the transition.
- When starting to wear barefoot or minimalist shoes, start slowly. Only wear them for 5-10% of your mileage in the beginning and increase every week by 10-20%. If you start getting increased soreness in your lower legs, hold off increasing the mileage the next week, and then start increasing again the following week.
- Don’t go from a large heel to toe drop immediately to a barefoot. It is best to go from traditional to partial minimalist and then progress from there to full minimalist or barefoot.
- You also need to start doing exercises for foot and ankle strength and control. Your legs will feel much better if you do these daily.